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Gender differences in social influences and stressors linked to increased drinking

Lemke S, Schutte KK, Brennan PL, Moos RH. Gender differences in social influences and stressors linked to increased drinking. Journal of studies on alcohol and drugs. 2008 Sep 1; 69(5):695-702.

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Abstract:

OBJECTIVE: To explore reasons for gender differences in problem-drinking prevalence and to compare the experiences of problem-drinking women and men, this article examines gender differences in exposure and drinking reactivity to social influences and stressors during adulthood. METHOD: A community sample of 831 older adults (347 women and 484 men; average age = 69), comprising problem and nonproblem drinkers, provided information about their drinking histories. Respondents indicated whether they had experienced particular social influences and stressors during adulthood (exposure) and, if so, whether they had increased alcohol consumption in response (reactivity). RESULTS: Overall, women were more likely than men to report exposure to a partner's drinking, family interpersonal problems, death of someone close, and emotional distress. Men reported more exposure to peers'' drinking and workplace problems and were more likely to report drinking reactivity to social influences and stressors. Among problem drinkers, gender differences in exposure to social influences and stressors paralleled those in the overall sample, but gender differences in reactivity were minimal. CONCLUSIONS: Gender differences in exposure to social influences and stressors generally do not help explain men's higher problem-drinking prevalence, but men's overall greater drinking reactivity corresponds with their propensity to develop problem drinking. Problem-drinking women and men tend to be exposed to somewhat different social influences and stressors but share a tendency to respond to these experiences with increased drinking. Information about experiences that may place upward pressure on drinking for men and women can inform efforts to prevent and treat alcohol-use disorders.





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