Almost one in five men will struggle with alcohol dependence at some point in their lives, which is double the rate of women. There are several factors that contribute to this increased risk for alcoholism among men and many of them have to do with the physical and psychological response the male body has to alcohol.
Men Binge Drink at Higher Rates
Alcohol has a greater effect on women than it does on men who have had the same amount to drink, and yet it’s men who are more likely to drink to excess. On average, men engage in binge drinking about once a month, as opposed to women who do so only about twice a year. One theory why men binge drink more often than women, is that we don’t feel the effects of alcohol as acutely as women, and therefore don’t experience many of the warning signs that we’ve had too much.
Another theory is that risky behavior, such as binge drinking, is more socially acceptable among men than it is among women. Whatever the reason for increased instances of binge drinking among men, it puts us at a greater risk for alcoholism, and for other illnesses and problems as well.
Increased Physical Harm
Alcohol abuse puts everyone at a higher risk for cancer, but the types are different between genders. While women have a higher instance of breast cancer when they drink regularly, men have a higher risk for esophagus, liver, colon, mouth, and throat cancers. Decreased cognitive function and increased risk of heart disease and other illnesses are also seen in men who have drinking problems.
Because the effects of alcohol are so different among men and women, gender-specific treatment yields the best results in alcoholism recovery programs. The physical, emotional, and mental issues brought on by this type of addiction are best overcome in a program that addresses the unique needs of men.
Sexual Implications of Alcohol Abuse
Men who have had too much to drink, or who chronically overindulge in alcohol, report decreased sexual function. Impotence is a side effect of alcoholism for many men with alcohol dependency. Men who have had too much to drink are more likely to engage in risky sexual behaviors that put them at a higher risk for contracting STDs, such as having sex with multiple partners or having sex without protection. Excessive drinking is often a factor in cases of sexual assault as well. Long-term reproductive function can be affected by alcohol as well since it interferes with male hormone production and testicular function.