The Gender Differences in Alcoholism

Researchers have found many similarities between men and women when it comes to alcoholism, but they have also discovered some key differences that are interesting and will require additional research.

In the past, people tended to think about alcoholism as a disease that mostly impacts men.  While there are more men than women who are considered alcoholics, they believe that women are actually more vulnerable to the potential negative consequences involved in excessive drinking.

For this particular study, more than 500 people were involved, split between men and women.  It was originally published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research”.

One of the big differences that was found is that although both groups begin drinking and recognized that they had a problem at the same time, women typically reached out for help much sooner.   In fact, nearly 5 years before men do.

What is also surprising is the length of time both genders waited before looking for help.  The women in this group struggled with their alcohol problem for about 10 years before   they reached out for help.  Within the same group, men waited for 15 years.

The study concluded that both genders began drinking in their late teens.  They also found that both genders began to recognize that they had problems with their alcohol at about the same time, in their early 20’s.

This study did not delve into the reasons that there was a 5 year delay for the men, however they did create a working hypothesis.

They believe that women seek help for alcoholism before men because they don’t feel as much pressure from a social perspective.  They think it is easier for women to acknowledge that they have a problem and that they don’t feel a negative social stigma from seeking out outside assistance to control it.

While this study uncovered the important difference between the sexes regarding how long it takes each group to seek out help, it also uncovered the need for additional research.

Future research should delve into the reason why women seem to be more susceptible to the negative consequences than men.  They also need to gain a better understanding of the reason women seek help so much sooner.

Gaining a better understanding of these issues will help doctors better understand what can be done to help both genders recognize the depth of their problem and seek treatment sooner.  If these problems can be identified sooner they can likely be treated long before any kind of an in-patient treatment center is needed.

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