Alcohol Hits Women Way Harder Than Men

glass of wine

You know how your husband can drink a few beers and not even blink, whereas you're wearing the proverbial lampshade after only a glass and a half of wine? A new study has underscored what we all know to be true: Alcohol affects women much more dramatically than it does men. According to researchers at University of Gothenburg in Sweden, long-term excessive drinking affects women neurologically more quickly in than it does men, influencing our judgment, self-control, and emotional regulation. Alcohol abuse may also lead to depression in women more quickly than in men, too.

Kind of makes you lose your thirst for cocktails tonight, doesn't it?


Findings like these often feel like a wakeup call for us women. We know anecdotally that many of us can't match guys drink for drink and still walk away from the table with the sensation in our legs intact. There are physiological reasons for that: Our bodies have less of the stomach-lining enzyme that helps us break down liquor. As a consequence, we reach the legal level of alcohol in the bloodstream after fewer drinks, which is why we really shouldn't get behind the wheel of a car after even one drink. (Our reflexes are significantly slowed after even a single cocktail or glass of wine.)

Interestingly, research has found that women tend to drink for different reasons than men do, too. Whereas men have reported drinking to enhance their mood, women often drink to cope with depression and anxiety. We also drink to gain confidence and lower our sexual inhibitions. How ironic, then, that this recent study suggests a link between alcohol and depression.

Because of these differences between the way men and women respond to alcohol, and their disparate reasons for drinking, experts are now beginning to conclude that it might be best to treat women and men differently for alcohol abuse. That makes sense. Women who are addicted to alcohol should be treated in ways that are tailored to their needs. And the rest of us? Well, we should just be mindful of the more extreme effects alcohol may have on our bodies. And the next time we split a pitcher of sangria with our husbands, we may not want to match them glass for glass.

Do you find alcohol affects you more quickly than it does the men in your life?


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