Does Alcoholism Affect Men and Women Differently?

Alcoholism has a reputation for bringing out the worst in both men and women. However, upon careful research, you might be interested to not only learn the differences between how alcoholism affects men and women, but also how alcoholism affects aggression as opposed to normal, sober aggression.

In research on the combined effects of alcohol and tobacco smoking, it was found that esophageal cancer was attributed to men and women who drank alcohol and smoked tobacco on a regular basis. However, men were twice as likely to develop esophageal cancer as women were. Women could combine both smoking and drinking and could still be only half as likely to develop this cancer as men. Since a lot of this data was confirmed by self-reporting, there is still not enough of a discrepancy between men and women in this area, and other factors must be taken into consideration. The average amount of alcohol consumed every day plus the total years devoted to smoking are two factors which greatly affect how at-risk either gender is for esophageal cancer. [1]

Men and women are also different when alcohol and aggression are combined, but this may have more to do with temperament than actual alcoholism.

In a study conducted by Hoaken and Pihl, men and women exhibited equal aggression during alcohol consumption and that this seemed to be the case even when provoked while being sober. This lead the researchers to believe that both women are equally as aggressive as men when highly provoked, and that alcohol consumption had less to do with the end result as the amount of provocation. [2]

Does this mean that aggressive temperaments are based solely upon the inherent traits of each individual? Not quite.

A study by Rohsenow and Bachorowski determined that men and women do exhibit different levels of aggression, depending upon the level of intoxication. While both genders exhibited slight increase in natural aggression at high doses of alcohol, females also showed higher aggression even at low doses. In other words, women were more affected by men when drinking small doses of alcohol. Interestingly enough, the researchers also evaluated how knowledge and ignorance of alcoholic intake affected the overall aggression of either gender. Their findings corroborated the findings of Hoaken and Pihl, in that belief about lack of self control actually affected aggression more than the alcohol. [2]

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1. “Independent and joint effects of tobacco smoking and alcohol drinking on the risk of esophageal cancer in men and women – Castellsagué – 1999 – International Journal of Cancer – Wiley Online Library.” Wiley Online Library. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Mar. 2011. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/%28SICI%291097-0215%2819990827%2982:5%3C657::AID-IJC7%3E3.0.CO;2-C/pdf.

2. “THE EFFECTS OF ALCOHOL INTOXICATION ON AGGRESSIVE RESPONSES IN MEN AND WOMEN.” Oxford Journals | Medicine | Alcohol and Alcoholism. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Mar. 2011. http://alcalc.oxfordjournals.org/content/35/5/471.short.

3. Rohsenow, Damaris, and Jo-Anne Bachorowski. “Effects of alcohol and expectancies on verbal aggression in men and women.” APA PsycNet. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Mar. 2011. http://psycnet.apa.org/index.cfm?fa=buy.optionToBuy&id=1985-06151-001.

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