What is Telescoping and How Does it Affect Men versus Women?

What is Telescoping?

What Are The Factors That Affect Telescoping?

  • Co-occurring Disorders: According to this study, substance abuse rates are higher amongst women with eating disorders. It was found that lifetime eating disorder behaviors co-occurred with substance abuse disorder in up to 40% of women. Other disorders such as PTSD and mood/anxiety disorders are also thought to make individuals, especially women, more vulnerable to addiction and more likely to telescope.
  • Biological Differences: Hormones are thought to influence the behavioral effects of drugs. For instance, the follicular phase of the menstrual cycle is associated with the greatest responsivity to stimulants. This means a person newly exposed to at or around this stage may progress more rapidly than at other stages.
  • Sociological Differences: For gambling disorders, societal norms may contribute to telescoping. In societies where women experience more socio-cultural pressures that oppose gambling, for instance, gambling disorders may move more rapidly.
  • Gambling Type: It is thought that telescoping may occur more in non-strategic v strategic forms. According to this study, the non-strategic forms, often preferred by women, may be more addictive due to the shorter period between bet and outcome. The faster display of results may explain why some individuals continue playing since they feel winning may be a short while away.

Is Telescoping Restricted to either Gender?

Photo by Dainis Graveris on Unsplash

How Does Telescoping Affect Women Compared to Men?

  • Gambling: One Australian study researched into the telescoping effect in gambling disorders on a sample size of 4,764 participants. It found that men initiated gambling at an earlier age than women. It also found that men progressed more rapidly to weekly gambling, symptoms of disordered gambling and diagnosis. Despite this, many other studies, referenced here, report that gambling disorders in women, compared to men, is telescoped.
  • Alcohol Dependence: Another study conducted by a team from Columbia University failed to find significant evidence for a telescoping effect in women for alcohol use and dependence. The conclusion was reached after analyzing data from two national surveys conducted 10 years apart. Again, other evidence exists to the contrary, although in a much earlier study.
  • Opioids: Research indicates that women use smaller amounts of heroin, for shorter periods and are less likely to inject them. For prescription opioids however, there is much less clarity. Data from the 2004 National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that women aged 12–17 had higher rates than men. However, men aged 18–25 had higher rates of use than women.
  • Stimulants: Rates of stimulant use are generally similar among men and women. Certain studies however suggest that women may be more vulnerable to the reinforcing effects of stimulant drugs such as cocaine.
  • Cannabis: Cannabis, also called marijuana, is the most commonly used illicit drug in the US. Studies suggest that men are more likely to use marijuana daily and initiate at a younger age than women.




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Stonegate Center

Stonegate Center


Stonegate Center is Texas’ premier faith-based treatment program for men and women seeking freedom from drug and alcohol addiction. Link: stonegatecenter.com