Men vs. women: 6 reasons why they differ in alcohol addiction and treatment

Though we may like to think of equality among the sexes, men and women do differ in some areas. One of the major areas they differ in is alcohol addiction and treatment.

1. Women are more likely to have a mental health issue involved in their addiction

Some know that addiction can be coupled with a mental health issue. According to the Mayo Clinic, women and men vary in areas of mental health. Studies show that women are twice as likely than men to suffer from depression, with 1 in 5 women dealing with the psychological condition. Women are more likely than men to suffer from depression for a series of reasons that make women different from men. Women enter puberty earlier than men, a time when the prevalence of depression is high. Women also deal with a spike in their hormone levels during their monthly menstrual cycle as well as during pregnancy. Hormones like estrogen can disrupt levels of serotonin in the brain, a chemical that is associated with happiness.

Those numbers may be carrying over into addiction and alcoholism. Psych Central stated that 30 to 50 percent of people who battle alcoholism are also battling depression in their lives.

2. Men drink riskier amounts of alcohol than women

According to a report from the World Health Organization, each year close to 8 percent of men’s deaths are related to alcohol, and 4 percent of women’s deaths are. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that men are twice as likely as women to binge drink. Men have close to 13 binge-drinking episodes a year, where women only have close to three episodes. But the amount of alcohol women drink is increasing to concerning amounts, according to the WHO.

3. More men battle alcoholism than women

This amount of binge-drinking can lead to abuse down the road. Given that the prevalence of binge-drinking is higher in men, alcoholism is too. Men are twice as likely as women to battle alcoholism.

4. More women seek out alcoholism treatment earlier than men

Though men are more likely to struggle with alcoholism, women are more likely to seek out recovery treatment sooner. According to a study published in the journal Alcoholism, researchers from the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Florida found that women attempt to find recovery treatment four or five years before men do. On average, women seek out treatment after 10 years of heavy drinking, where men will often wait closer to 15 years.

5. Women are more genetically predisposed to alcoholism

The study also noted a few differences in parenting and genetics. Women are 73 percent more likely to develop an issue with alcohol if their parents were alcoholics, whereas men are 61 percent more likely to become alcoholics if their parents were.

6. Women are more likely to suffer health consequences from alcohol abuse and alcoholism

In terms of the science of addiction, gender makes no difference. Addiction affects the medial forebrain bundle, the Miami Herald reported. This area of the brain is a pleasure center that activates every time there is some sort of rewarding and pleasurable activity an individual engages in, like eating or engaging in sexual activity. The feeling of pleasure can be addicting, causing people to abuse substances. Yet women’s brains are more likely to show damage earlier from heavy drinking than men’s are, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Women’s bodies show other alcohol-related damage sooner as well, like heart damage, nerve damage and cirrhosis.

Men and women may be equal, but a series of studies have proven that women and men are very different when it comes to alcohol addiction and seeking treatment for it.

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