UMass Chan Medical School Faculty Publications

UMMS Affiliation

Division of Medical Toxicology, Department of Emergency Medicine

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Document Type



Gender and Sexuality | Medical Toxicology | Substance Abuse and Addiction | Toxicology


Background: Variations between male and female populations are previously reported in classes of harmfully used/misused drugs, severity of substance use disorder and risk of relapse. The aim of this study was to provide a review of bedside medical toxicologist managed, sex-specific poisonings in adults that present with harmful drug use/misuse.

Methods: ToxIC Registry cases > /=19 and < /=65 years old, with harmful drug use or misuse during the timeframe June 2010-December 2016, were studied. Demographics, primary agents of toxic exposure, administration route and complications were analyzed. Descriptive methods were used in the analysis.

Results: The database included 51,440 cases. Of these, 3426 cases were analyzed in which the primary reason for the encounter was harmful substance use/misuse. Females were found to harmfully use/misuse pharmaceutical drugs (N=806, 65.6%) more than nonpharmaceutical drugs (N=423, 34.4%). Males more frequently used nonpharmaceutical drugs (N=1189, 54.1%) than pharmaceutical drugs (1008, 45.9%). Analgesics were used by females (N= 215, 18.2%) and males (N=137, 6.6%). Sedative hypnotics were used by females (N=165, 14%) and males (N=160, 7.8%). Psychoactive agents were used by males (N=325, 15.8%) and females (N=67, 5.7%). Sympathomimetics were used by males (N=381, 18.5%) and females (N=151, 12.8%). The majority of both male and female participants, 1712 (57.9%), utilized an oral route of administration. However, 312 (16.5%) of males utilized inhalation vs 73 (6.8%) of females inhaled their substance.

Conclusion: There were sex-specific differences among patients evaluated for harmful substance use/misuse by toxicologists. Considering these differences in regards to management and preventive approaches may be indicated.


gender studies, overdose, substance misuse, substance use, toxicology

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DOI of Published Version



Beauchamp GA, Carey JL, Hurwitz MB, Tully BN, Cook MD, Cannon RD, Katz KD, Koons AL, Kincaid H, Greenberg MR; Toxicology Investigators Consortium (ToxIC). Sex Differences in Substance Use and Misuse: A Toxicology Investigators' Consortium (ToxIC) Registry Analysis. Subst Abuse Rehabil. 2020 Sep 29;11:23-31. doi: 10.2147/SAR.S263165. PMID: 33061740; PMCID: PMC7532888. Link to article on publisher's site

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Link to Article in PubMed

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Substance abuse and rehabilitation

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Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 License