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Health and Sanity

Melissa Hutsell
Freelance Writer and Editor
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piqer: Melissa Hutsell
Wednesday, 05 December 2018

How Binary And Non-Binary Genders Use And Abuse Drugs Differently

In 2017, drug overdoses in British Columbia increased 88 percent from the previous year. By June, 780 people had died of overdoses in that province – 80 percent were men. It’s the same story throughout North America, where opioid abuse is an issue, explains podcast host Geoff Turner.

Ohio leads the U.S. in opioid-related deaths. BJ Bethel, reporter, linked the state’s high overdose rates among men to the decline of the manufacturing industry. The state was a heartland of America’s manufacturing industry. “You either worked at General Motors, or a place that supplied parts to [GM],” Bethel said. Thousands of jobs were lost, he continued; most had been held by men. When they lost their jobs, they lost their ticket to the middle class. Many were stuck juggling multiple jobs, injuries, or trying to find a way to make a living, said Bethel.

Turner then speaks with psychology professor Daniel Bilsker about workplace injuries, opioid dependence and the value of male life. Men are more likely to use drugs, and die from them. Factors that lead to use, and consequences of abuse, aren’t just felt by men. Turner discusses alcohol prohibition in the U.S. and Canada, and its effect on the culture of drinking.

The ways men and women deal with substances are shaped by cultural expectations, says Jenny Valentish, author. "There’s a common misconception that women self-medicate more than men," she adds. But women are trained to worry about their mental health more. The podcast dives into the marketing of drugs (and their overwhelming appeal to women).

Turner then speaks with Sandy Leo, a transgender activist, about drugs in the transgender community in the 70s. Sometimes drug use is viewed as an escape, but what Leo describes is more complicated, according to Turner. “By choosing to embrace her non-binary gender, she became part of a community where drug use was a part of the identity.”

How Binary And Non-Binary Genders Use And Abuse Drugs Differently
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