Researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital and the Boston University School of Medicine sought to discover if the reward system works differently for alcoholic women as opposed to alcoholic men, as well as if there is a different in contrast between alcoholic brains and non alcoholic brains of men and women. They found that the structure of the reward system in alcoholic women is larger than alcoholic men, as well as nonalcoholic men and nonalcoholic women. Compared to nonalcoholic women, the reward system structure in the brain of alcoholic women were 4.4 percent larger. In contrast, the reward system structure of alcoholic men was actually 4.1% smaller than nonalcoholic men.
An increasing amount of research is showing that women are more vulnerable to alcoholism than men. Recent research found that the gender gap between men and women alcoholics is closing as women are drinking more than males and developing alcoholism at a younger age than men.
Treatment for alcoholism in a clinical setting is often highly individualized to meet the unique needs of each client. Alcoholism is not a generalized issue, as this research proves. Rather, it can be different from one person to the other, one gender to the other.
For the study, researchers gathered 60 total participants who underwent serious survey and MRI testing. Alcoholics had been in recovery for anywhere from four weeks to more than thirty years. The study revealed more than the importance of highlighting gender differences in alcoholism. Many alcoholics in recovery initially struggle with an existential conflict of whether or not recovery is “worth” it because they are unsure if it actually makes a difference. Plenty of research using brain imaging science exists to prove that the various methods used in treating alcoholism work to heal the brain. This particular study found that each year of sobriety the recovering alcoholic participants had “was associated with a 1.8 percent decrease in the size of the ventricles in the brain suggesting that recovery from damage to the brain due to alcoholism is possible.” Few things need to be heard by those in recovery more than “recovery is possible.” Men and women alike need to understand that overtime, their brain will recover, their lives will change, and maintaining sobriety for a lifetime is possible.
If you or a loved one are struggling from alcoholism, help is available. Avalon By The Sea offers residential treatment designed to promote transformative healing of mind, body, and spirit. For a confidential assessment and more information on our programs, call us today at 1 888-958-7511.