Background: Accumulating evidence indicates important gender differences in substance use disorders. Little is known, however, about gender differences and opioid use disorders.
Objectives: To compare demographic characteristics, substance use severity, and other associated areas of functioning (as measured by the Addiction Severity Index-Lite (ASI-Lite)) among opioid-dependent men and women participating in a multisite effectiveness trial.
Methods: Participants were 892 adults screened for the National Institute on Drug Abuse Clinical Trials Network investigation of the effectiveness of two buprenorphine tapering schedules.
Results: The majority of men and women tested positive for oxycodone (68% and 65%, respectively) and morphine (89% each). More women than men tested positive for amphetamines (4% vs. 1%, p < .01), methamphetamine (11% vs. 4%, p < .01), and phencyclidine (8% vs. 4%, p = .02). More men than women tested positive for methadone (11% vs. 6%, p = .05) and marijuana (22% vs. 15%, p = .03). Craving for opioids was significantly higher among women (p < .01). Men evidenced higher alcohol (p < .01) and legal (p = .04) ASI composite scores, whereas women had higher drug (p < .01), employment (p < .01), family (p < .01), medical (p < .01), and psychiatric (p < .01) ASI composite scores. Women endorsed significantly more current and past medical problems.
Conclusions: Important gender differences in the clinical profiles of opioid-dependent individuals were observed with regard to substance use severity, craving, medical conditions, and impairment in associated areas of functioning. The findings enhance understanding of the characteristics of treatment-seeking men and women with opioid dependence, and may be useful in improving identification, prevention, and treatment efforts for this challenging and growing population.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00078117.