Posted on Aug 08, 2022, 3 p.m.
One in every 12 adults meets the criteria for alcohol addiction. Alcohol is readily available worldwide, and in the United States, laws only require us to meet the legal drinking age to buy alcohol at will. It’s no wonder the substance ranks as one of the most abused substances, but is there a particular trend of alcohol addiction in men? Here’s what the statistics tell us.
Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) in Men
Statistically, men are more likely to use nearly every type of illicit drug, including abusing legal substances such as alcohol. The percentage of men compared to women is higher in every category of alcohol use, including binge drinking, overall consumption, and alcohol use disorder. While the percentages might change, this trend is true across multiple ethnicities and signals important questions for us to ask ourselves about this.
But before making a connection between men and alcoholism, it’s important to define the term properly. While alcohol addiction or alcoholism are common terms, the medical term for the condition is alcohol use disorder (AUD), a chronic brain disease that results in the inability to control alcohol intake. People with AUD feel the need to use alcohol compulsively and experience negative emotional states when not drinking it.
Why Alcohol Use Disorder Is a Brain Disease
Considering alcohol as a brain disease is important because it reminds us that alcohol suppresses the central nervous system. Over time, it can literally change how the brain works, and this acts as a collision course for the way the brain communicates with the rest of the body. Because of this, one of the reasons AUD is more prevalent in men is body composition. These can include hormones, GABA (gamma-Aminobutyric) receptors, dopamine, metabolism, and detoxification.
One area of special interest is the dopamine system in men. One study claims that the reason men are up to twice as likely to develop AUD compared to women is that “increased dopamine release also had a stronger association with subjective positive effects of alcohol intoxication.” This means men’s brains are more likely to associate the effects of alcohol as a reward and pleasure mechanism than women’s. The result is a stronger motivation to form a habit of ongoing alcohol use.
What the Results Are
Unfortunately, the statistics of AUD also pose a troubling demographic for men. Since men are more susceptible to AUD, they also rank higher among women in years lost to a healthy life and family involvement. This is not only because of AUD’s negative financial impact, such as men forfeiting a career to provide a quality of life in favor of alcohol. It’s also because of the emotional and physical impact, particularly with the connection between domestic and substance abuse in men. Data show that men are more likely to assault others due to AUD, including wives and children. Even if violent patterns do not take place within the home, the likelihood of incarceration only means that men will be uninvolved in their families, apart from the emotional pain their actions cause.
Beyond the statistics of AUD and its negative impact on men and their families, there are also the negative effects on personal health. Ongoing excessive alcohol use can take a toll on the brain and its communication with vital organs in the body. Over time, these results include high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, cancer, weakened immune system, and so much more. These symptoms are often experienced simultaneously, making their negative impact much worse.
Moving On to Recovery
Understanding these statistics should serve as a motivation for change. Progressing as a society and contributing to men’s health is something that men and women alike can take part in. Not only does this include the necessary education on this issue, but it also includes loving ourselves and others enough to change the trends in a positively by detoxing from alcohol with professional guidance.
This is a dynamic approach that can include several puzzle pieces. Not only do trained medical professionals play a role in this, but family and friends do, as well. If you or someone you love is affected by these troubling statistics, it’s important to take the necessary steps to improve everyone’s health for the better.
This article was written for WHN by Kevin Morris from the Delphi Behavioral Health Group, a dedicated family of facilities committed to offering individualized treatment for all levels of addiction working to treat it at its core to provide those suffering with the tools to start a journey of long-lasting recovery.
As with anything you read on the internet, this article should not be construed as medical advice; please talk to your doctor or primary care provider before changing your wellness routine.
Content may be edited for style and length.
Materials provided by:
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