Does Alcoholism Differ Between Men And Women?

Highest Standards, Nationally Recognized:

From the very first drink, alcohol is different between men and women. Alcohol abuse, or binge drinking, differs for men and women. According to the National Institute of Health, binge drinking for men includes 5 drinks in a two hour sitting while binge drinking for women is about 4. Men and women’s bodies, metabolisms, and psychologies are different in general. For alcohol, the primary genders can act differently in the way that they create alcohol dependency in the brain.

Healio reports that new research from Massachusetts has found a significant difference in the reward system of the brain as it relates to alcoholism in both males and females. “Analyses indicated a significant gender interaction in the association between alcoholism and total reward network volumes,” the article explains, “with smaller reward volumes among men with alcoholism vs. male controls and larger reward volumes among women with alcoholism vs. female controls.” In simple terms, they found that the male alcoholic brain has a smaller volume of reward compared to the female. Compared to other interesting findings which have surfaced recently, this is of little surprise.

Statistically, women have always drank less than men and have been less diagnosed with alcohol related disorders. Even at the time Alcoholics Anonymous, the world famous 12 step program, was founded, female alcoholics were few and far between. The primary text for the group, Alcoholics Anonymous, was written for men by men with little mention of women who were not the wives of male alcoholics. A brief paragraph describes that female alcoholics do exist, “Potential female alcoholics often turn into the real thing and are gone beyond recall in a few years. Certain drinkers, who would be greatly insulted if called alcoholics, are astonished at their inability to stop.” Reports have revealed that the gender gap between male and female alcoholics is rapidly closing. Women are drinking more than men and more than they ever have before, leading to higher rates of alcoholism in females.

The reasons why men and women drink alcoholically may differ on the surface- for example, women might be more emotional drinkers whereas men drink to relieve work-oriented stress. However, as many alcoholics in recovery  find, it is not the differences but the similarities which matter. Finding pleasure in the effects of alcohol and developing a chemical dependency upon it is the root of all alcoholism. Everything else is a matter of detail.


If you are struggling with alcohol abuse, help is available. Call Avalon By the Sea today for information on our residential treatment programs, designed to heal mind, body, and spirit, while creating lifelong recovery. For a confidential assessment, call 888-958-7511.



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