Addictovigilance in women, the hidden part of the iceberg?

Therapie. 2022 Oct 7;S0040-5957(22)00175-5. doi: 10.1016/j.therap.2022.10.006. Online ahead of print.


Epidemiology of substance use disorders and their complications is driven by a male predominance, and women, even if they are more and more prevalent, are never specifically represented in studies in the field. Apart from the time of pregnancy, which in itself requires specific prevention, treatment and follow-up, the importance of the sex of women in the complications of substance abuse is neglected. To illustrate, we described some characteristics of women identified in the addictovigilance information system in France and Europe, related to drug use disorders (both for illicit substances and medications). Even if the exposure to some psychoactive substances remains more prevalent in men, women, and particularly young women, seem to be more vulnerable to the adverse effects of these substances, as observed for opioid analgesics, benzodiazepines, cannabis and even nitrous oxide. It is now imperative that the female sex/gender be taken into consideration in addictovigilance expertise and in drug safety in general, even for substances for which use is predominantly male. In addition, the adequate management of the women requires the development of specific prevention and care strategies.

Keywords: Addiction; Addictovigilance; Benzodiazepines; Cannabis; Drug abuse; Nitrous oxide; Non-medical use; Opioids; Women.