environmental cues and associated the environment in which cocaine was administered with the drug itself more than males did, treatment providers should consider understanding that the environment is a bigger problem for females, Calipari said. “Treatments that work for males may not work for females. We may have to do something different.”
Historically, addiction treatment programs were tailored for men, as most studies used only male subjects.
“A lot of the work we did before focused on male subjects, which is something a lot of scientists do because it’s the standard,” Calipari said. “But females are somewhat more complicated because of ovarian hormonal levels that fluctuate over different time points at different times of the day.”
The next step for Calipari is to expand the latest research into a larger project, which will examine how much potential birth control pills have in helping females struggling with addiction.
The female subjects analyzed for this study were experiencing unstable hormonal levels, which means different scenarios will need to be explored before researchers can determine whether the problematic factor for females is the presence or instability of estrogen.
“The question now is about the underlying problem here,” Calipari said. “Is it the fact that estrogens are there or not, or is it the fact that they’re fluctuating in this cyclical pattern? If [the latter is the problem] we can start to do hormonal replacement therapy and see if that helps.”