2. Gender differences in drug use from a social perspective
Gender is part of the social organization of risks practices, governing our access to material and symbolic resources, the manner of our interaction with others, and our beliefs about ourselves. Gender differences in the contexts of drug consumption influence the way in which drugs are use or abused. From the historical point of view, and in comparison, to men, women have been consumers of legally traded or medically accessed drugs.
We present empirical data from a digital ethnography using observations, in depth interviews and focus groups that was carried out during 2019 and 2020 in different Spanish cities with the aim of understand gender differences in use and abuse of alcohol and other psychoactive substances.
When a woman consumes illegal drugs, she breaks her gender mandate and creates a rupture with the roles that have been socially and culturally assigned to her, such as that of maternity. For this reason, every time that women use illegal drugs and break the limits of what has been socially imposed by the patriarchy, a social sanction is generated, a rejection due to breaking the roles assigned to them and disrupting controls on the sexual behaviour of women.
An explanatory model from the social and cultural perspective is needed in order to understand the relations of gender and drugs, because adopting this perspective allows us to understand inequity, especially with regard to gender violence.