Do Men and Women Respond Differently to Alcohol?

Do Men and Women Respond Differently to Alcohol?

Alcohol abuse has been with humankind for centuries and sadly remains one of the greatest challenges to human health and wellbeing.

According to the latest statistics from the U.S. National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 26.9 percent of people ages 18 or older reported having engaged in binge drinking in the past month; 7.0 percent reported having engaged in heavy alcohol use in the past month.

What’s more, according to the same data, 15.1 million U.S. adults ages 18 and older (6.2 percent of this age group) suffer from alcohol abuse disorder or alcoholism. This includes 9.8 million men (8.4 percent of men in this age group) and 5.3 million women (4.2 percent of women in this age group).

Researcher have long wondered whether there are differences in the way men and women react neurologically to alcohol.  Now a team from Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM), in conjunction with the VA Boston Healthcare System and Massachusetts General Hospital are providing some of the answers.

To conduct their study, the researchers used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to measure the difference in brain activity between alcoholic men and women.

Here are their findings:

Compared to alcoholic women, alcoholic men have more diminished brain activity in areas responsible for emotional processing (limbic regions including the amygdala and hippocampus), as well as memory and social processing (cortical regions including the superior frontal and supramarginal regions) among other functions.

What significance do these findings have for treatment?  According to the research team: “Our findings indicate that the experiences and mechanisms of alcohol use disorder and addiction differ for men and women.”

The study’s authors hope these discoveries may one day lead to prevention and treatment strategies specifically tailored by gender.

If you are struggling with an addiction to drugs and/or alcohol and need help in Connecticut, New Hampshire or Southern Maine, the recovery teams at Aware Recovery Care are here to help.  Our unique model of care is giving clients a significantly better chance of recovery when compared to traditional inpatient rehab care.  To learn more or to talk to one of our Recovery Specialists, visit