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Study says: Stress, by itself, can lead to heavy drinking in women but not men

For women, it didn't matter if the initial drink was alcoholic or not: stress linked to binge drinking.

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Jiya Saini
Jiya Saini is a Journalist and Writer at Revyuh.com. She has been working with us since January 2018. After studying at Jamia Millia University, she is fascinated by smart lifestyle and smart living. She covers technology, games, sports and smart living, as well as good experience in press relations. She is also a freelance trainer for macOS and iOS, and In the past, she has worked with various online news magazines in India and Singapore. Email: jiya (at) revyuh (dot) com

Despite the fact that men abuse alcohol at a higher rate than women, women are catching up. Women are also more likely than men to suffer alcohol-related issues.

Stress doesn’t lead to excessive drinking in men, shows new study.

According to a new study, stress alone can cause women to drink excessively.

Men who were under the same stress only drank excessively after they had already started drinking.

Despite the fact that men abuse alcohol at a higher rate than women, women are catching up. Women are also more likely than men to suffer alcohol-related issues.

Participants drank alcoholic beverages while going through stressful and non-stressful circumstances at a simulated pub. Women, but not men, were more likely to drink more than they meant as a result of stress, highlighting the relevance of investigating gender variations in alcohol intake.

The findings were reported in the journal Psychology of Addictive Behaviors.

“Some people can intend to have one or two alcoholic beverages and stop drinking, but other people just keep going. This impaired control over drinking is one of the earliest indicators of alcohol use disorders, and we know stress contributes to both impaired control over drinking and dysregulated drinking. The role of stress in impaired control over drinking is understudied, especially in women,” says Julie Patock-Peckham, lead author of the study.

The experiment was conducted in a research center set up to look like a bar, along with a bartender, bar stools, and vibrant discussions. There were 105 women and 105 men among the contestants. They were divided into groups, with some going through a stressful circumstance and others going through a non-stressful situation. Following that, half of the participants were given three non-alcoholic drinks while the other half were given three alcoholic drinks. For the next 90 minutes, all attendees had unrestricted access to alcoholic beverages from the bar.

“We know that both genes and the environment play a role in problematic drinking. We can’t do anything about the genes, but we can intervene with the environment. Stress and impaired control over drinking are tightly connected, and because stress is something we can manipulate, we tested whether stressors cause dysregulated drinking,” adds Patock-Peckham.

The research team was able to establish whether the amount of alcohol consumed was caused by stress, the initial drink, or a mix of the two thanks to the experimental setup. The researchers calculated alcohol intake based on the total number of drinks taken and the breath blood alcohol content (BAC).

All of the volunteers drank more heavily after being exposed to stress. Men who were given an alcoholic first drink and were stressed drank more than men who were given a placebo.

For women, it didn’t matter if the initial drink was alcoholic or not: stress linked to binge drinking.

“That women just needed the stress but men needed the push of already having alcohol on board shows how important this type of research is,” Patock-Peckham adds.

“The outcomes from alcohol use are not the same for men and women, and we cannot keep using models that were developed in men to help women.”

Source: 10.1037/adb0000801

Image Credit: Getty

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