Comparative profiles of men and women with opioid dependence: results from a national multisite effectiveness trial

Am J Drug Alcohol Abuse. 2011 Sep;37(5):313-23. doi: 10.3109/00952990.2011.596982.


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: NCT00078117.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analgesics, Opioid / administration & dosage
  • Analgesics, Opioid / adverse effects
  • Analgesics, Opioid / therapeutic use
  • Buprenorphine / administration & dosage
  • Buprenorphine / therapeutic use*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Opiate Substitution Treatment / methods*
  • Opioid-Related Disorders / epidemiology
  • Opioid-Related Disorders / rehabilitation*
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Sex Factors
  • Substance-Related Disorders / epidemiology*
  • United States / epidemiology


  • Analgesics, Opioid
  • Buprenorphine

Associated data