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2000 Jordan Institute
for Families

Vol. 4, No. 4
September 1999

Gender and Alcohol Addiction

Some differences between males and females with alcohol addiction include:

  1. Family/Genetic Factors. Women with alcohol problems are more likely to have an alcoholic role model in their nuclear families and to have alcoholic spouses than are alcoholic men.

  2. Onset. Women usually have drinking problems at later ages.

  3. Comsumption patterns. Women typically consume less alcohol than men and are less likely to drink daily, to drink continuously, or to engage in binges.

  4. Course of illness. Women progress rapidly from onset of drinking through later stages of alcoholism (known as "telescoping").

  5. Attribution of Etiology. Women often attribute their drinking to a traumatic event or stress.

  6. Co-existing Mental Disorders. Women with alcohol problems tend to have affective disorders (mood disorders such as depression, mania, and bipolar disorder), whereas alcoholic men are more likely to have antisocial personality disorder.

  7. Societal Response. Women experience more social disapproval for alcohol use, and women with alcoholism are more stigmatized.

  8. Social Consequences. Disruptions for women are more likely to occur in family life and more likely to result in separation or divorce. Disruptions for men tend to occur in the job arena.

  9. Medical Consequences. Women have more liver cirrhosis than men.

  10. Personal Response to Illness. Women with alcoholism generally feel more quilty, anxious, or depressed than do men with alcoholism.


Lex, B. (1991). Some gender differences in alcohol and polysubstance users. Health Psychology, 10(2), 121-132.

1999 Jordan Institute for Families