Sex Differences, Gender and Addiction

J Neurosci Res. 2017 Jan 2;95(1-2):136-147. doi: 10.1002/jnr.23963.


This review discusses alcohol and other forms of drug addiction as both a sociocultural and biological phenomenon. Sex differences and gender are not solely determined by biology, nor are they entirely sociocultural. The interactions among biological, environmental, sociocultural, and developmental influences result in phenotypes that may be more masculine or more feminine. These gender-related sex differences in the brain can influence the responses to drugs of abuse, progressive changes in the brain after exposure to drugs of abuse and whether addiction results from drug-taking experiences. In addition, the basic laboratory evidence for sex differences is discussed within the context of four types of sex/gender differences. © 2016 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Keywords: addiction; animal models; gender; sex differences; sociocultural influences.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Brain / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Sex Characteristics*
  • Sex Factors
  • Substance-Related Disorders* / epidemiology
  • Substance-Related Disorders* / pathology