Nicotine Addiction Harder for Women to Break

Male smokers account for significantly higher numbers than female smokers, with the World Health Organization (WHO) reporting worldwide numbers that show men smoke about 5 times as much as women. In the U.S., with an estimated 47 million smokers, 24% of men smoke compared to 18% of women. The numbers for nicotine addiction in Georgia run slightly lower with 23% of male smokers versus 15% of women smokers.

Men vs. Women on Nicotine Addiction

Research has shown more men have a nicotine addiction than women. Data also shows that women make fewer attempts to quit smoking, quit for shorter periods of time for each attempt, and smoke for a longer period of time over their lifetime than men. Males with a nicotine addiction report an easier time than females when trying to “kick the habit.”

Hormonal Fluctuations Often Keep Women Smoking

The Psychiatry Journal published a new study from the University of Montreal detailing the impact the menstrual cycle has on the strength of nicotine cravings. Adding in the symptoms that accompany the menstrual cycle results in frequent lengthy times when the decision to quit smoking is at battle with the incontrollable urge to smoke.

The university’s data indicates that the urge to smoke is strongest for a period of time after the monthly menses; additionally decreases in both estrogen and progesterone during a woman’s cycle significantly deepen any withdrawal symptoms at the same time those with a nicotine addiction crave a “smoke.”

Five Top Reasons Women Have Harder Time Ending Nicotine Addiction

  • Stress and anxiety are the top relapse triggers for women
  • Women tend to experience more severe withdrawal symptoms than men
  • Smoking cessation products (nicotine gum, nicotine patches, etc) more effective in men due to gender differences in how nicotine affects the brain; females are typically less responsive to products to help end nicotine addiction
  • Weight gain is a frequent reason women start smoking again
  • Fluctuating hormones that occur monthly during the menstrual cycle often de-rail attempts at quitting

An experienced and well-practiced psychiatrist will consider the different effectiveness of treatment unique to women when designing the overall medication and treatment plan to successfully achieve smoking cessation.

Dr. Darvin Hege is the local psychiatrist of choice for your nicotine addiction and smoking cessation. Medication and adjunct therapies may be part of your recovery from nicotine addiction. Let a doctor design a treatment plan that meets your unique needs. Dr. Hege’s office is located in Atlanta in the Sandy Springs/Dunwoody area, and he provides convenient appointment times for patients who need flexible hours.

About Darvin Hege

Dr. Darvin Hege, MD, PC, is based in Atlanta, Georgia, and certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, and the American Society of Addiction Medicine. He is an Emory Hospital residency trained psychiatrist who has been practicing psychiatry for more than 25 years. He maintains over 50 hours of AMA certified education each year to stay informed of advances in psychiatry.

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