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Study: Women Drink Less, But Get Drunk Faster

Study: Women Drink Less, But Get Drunk Faster

New research suggests that alcohol abuse does neurological damage more quickly in women than in men. This finding fortifies an already growing body of evidence that it’s about time for gender-specific treatment programs for alcohol-dependent women and men.

In the 1980s, when it came to alcohol dependence and gender, the ratio was roughly five males for every female. By 2002, this figure had dropped to about 2.5 men for every one woman. And, although the gender gap in dependence may be closing, we are beginning to see the differences in the ways men and women respond to alcohol.

Although alcohol-dependent men tend to drink excessively for 14 years to the mere four years for alcohol-dependent women, both men and women showed similar patterns of reduced serotonin activity of the brain.

This pattern of reduced serotonin activity is important because the regions of the brain that involve judgment, self-control and the regulation of emotion are the regions most likely to be affected by abnormalities from binge drinking and excessive drinking.

Dual Diagnosis

Women with addictions are more likely to suffer from mental health conditions that are associated with their substance abuse. Given the link between serotonin and depression, and the links between alcohol dependence and depression, this suggests that there is only one pathway in which alcohol dependence may lead to depression, and that it occurs more quickly among women.

Study: Women Drink Less, But Get Drunk Faster

Alcohol: Men vs. Women

There have been consistent findings that women suffer more severe physical consequences of alcohol consumption when compared to men.

Previous work on gender differences in alcohol dependence has shown that women get drunk on fewer drinks than men. This is because women have less of something called alcohol dehydrogenase, which is an enzyme in the stomach lining that breaks down alcohol. So, for instance, women are more likely than men to exceed legal blood-alcohol levels (BAC) after only two beers. Furthermore, alcohol impacts women’s health more rapidly over a shorter period of time: women develop cirrhosis of the liver more quickly than men do. And, generally speaking, women problem drinkers require medical treatment four years earlier than their male counterparts.

Study: Women Drink Less, But Get Drunk Faster

Gender-Specific Treatment

Studies on women’s physiological and physical responses to alcohol support the need for gender-specific treatment programs.

Specific populations of women are especially more likely to benefit from women-only treatment programs. Women-only programs are more likely to provide a greater range of services than coed programs for women who have been abused by men, pregnant women, and women with eating disorders.

The Orchid Recovery Center: Specifically a Women’s Treatment Center and Program

Although studies have shown similar responses to treatment among women who attended coed programs and those who attended women-only programs, the follow-up visits at six months-out showed that women from the all-women treatment groups relapsed less often than women in the mixed gender group. It has been found that, in all-female treatment groups, women shared personal information more readily and the women were more likely to bond, especially the less-assertive women. At Orchid Recovery Center, the professional staff is trained in the treatment of female alcoholism and all of the factors that play a part in their problem: health, family, social factors, eating disorders, relapse issues, which will support women in achieving long-term sobriety. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-888-672-4435.




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