Women Seek Help for Alcohol Abuse Sooner

Alcohol abuse treatment sought several years sooner by women than men

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Chris Galloway, M.D. Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) Men and women in treatment for alcohol abuse start drinking roughly around the same age. But there may be a big difference between these men and women as to when they seek treatment for alcohol abuse.

A recent study interviewed a group of men and women in a treatment facility for alcohol abuse.

The researchers found that women sought treatment for alcohol abuse, on average, four years sooner than the men in the group.

"Reach out for help with alcohol abuse."

Ben Lewis, PhD, postdoctoral associate in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Florida, led this study into gender differences between men and women seeking treatment for alcohol abuse.

For this study, the researchers interviewed 274 men and 257 women, ages 18 to 70, in substance abuse treatment centers about their drinking histories.

Participants were grouped into low or high drinking classifications based on whether they consumed more or less than 4.56 ounces of alcohol per day.

Results of the study showed that the time line between first getting drunk and starting to drink on a regular basis was similar for the men and the women. Not much of an age difference was found between the sexes when it came to starting to abuse alcohol either. However, women were quicker to enter treatment for alcohol abuse than men.

On average, men in both low and high drinking categories had their first drink one year earlier than women in either the low or high drinking categories. The women had their first drink at an average age of 11.5 years while the men had their first drink at an average age of 12.5 years.

Men in the low drinking group entered treatment at an average age of 34. In comparison, women in the low drinking group entered treatment at about 31 and a half years of age.

Men in the high drinking group entered treatment around the age of 36, while women in the high drinking group entered treatment at about 32 years of age.

From the start of alcohol abuse to entering treatment for alcohol abuse, men delayed an average of four years compared to women.

More women (73 percent) reported having alcoholic parents, compared to 61 percent of men. And 58 percent of women reported alcoholic spouses, compared to only 38 percent of men.

Smoking habits were similar between men and women. Men in the higher drinking category reported an average of 20 cigarettes per day compared to 17 for women in the high drinking category. Overall, 89 percent of participants were regular smokers.

“While women did not experience alcohol problems or alcoholism earlier than men, they progressed to treatment more quickly,” the study authors wrote.

This study was published in August in Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse and the University of Florida provided funding for this project. The study authors declared no conflicts of interest.

Review Date: 
August 13, 2013
Last Updated:
August 14, 2013