"Male Addiction, Female Addiction – Where’s the Difference?"

06/02/2018

RWTH Aachen University Hospital looks back on a successful event series.

“Addiction always has a history“ – that’s the name of a campaign in the federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia to help prevent addiction. This history tends to differ between men and women. Even if there are many commonalities, there are differences in the causes, characteristics, and progression of addictive disorders.

As Gudrun Jelich, Head of Suchthilfe Aachen, explains: “Women tend to suffer from less inconspicuous forms of addiction; conditions such as eating disorders or the abuse of prescription drugs do not become readily apparent. Men, by contrast, tend to suffer from alcohol addiction, take up illegal drugs or non-substance behaviors such as gambling.”

Aside from shedding light on medical and societal aspects of addictive disorders, the event series “Male Addiction, Female Addiction – Where’s the Difference? – Causes, Progression and Effects of Addiction Disorders” was also concerned with the opportunities of gender-sensitive treatment approaches. In January, the key topics included online (gaming) addiction, alcohol, and eating disorders.

The event on January 31, titled “Cult of Beauty or Female Biology: Eating Disorders of Girls and Young Women,” concluded the series, which was jointly organized by the Gender Medicine Working Group of RWTH’s Faculty of Medicine, Suchthilfe Aachen, and the RWTH Social Advising Team.

The Impact of TV Shows such as “Germany’s Next Top Model“

The keynote speaker at the final event was Professor Beate Herpertz-Dahlmann, director of the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Psychosomatics and Psychotherapy at RWTH Aachen University Hospital. In her talk, she presented the latest findings on the causes, progression, and possible treatments of eating disorders, in particular anorexia, and provided insights into the cultural history of fasting. She also outlined the findings of a 2015 study on the impact of media representations, in particular TV shows such as “Germany’s Next Top Model,” which have been shown to contribute to the development eating disorders.

“All in all, it was a very successful event series, addressing topics such as online addiction, substance addiction, and eating disorders from a gender perspective and covering both theoretical and practical considerations,” said Dr. Henrike Wolf, career development and gender coordinator at the RWTH Faculty of Medicine.