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A Look Behind the Numbers

Differences Between Genders


Differences in patterns of alcohol use help explain why more young men than women have serious alcohol problems: young men tend to drink greater amounts of alcohol and to do so more often than young women.

Young men with serious alcohol problems are more likely than young women to have a conduct use disorder. As a result, boys with serious alcohol problems are more likely to behave aggressively or violently than girls with serious alcohol problems, which can lead to more frequent involvement with the juvenile justice system.


Young women who drink develop serious alcohol problems more quickly and experience negative consequences earlier than young men even when they consume similar or smaller amounts of alcohol. Differences in female body chemistry and expectations about drinking may explain this "telescoping" effect.

Young women are more likely than young men to experience eating disorders, depression and sexual abuse, all of which are associated with serious alcohol problems.

One study indicates that young women who menstruate before the age of 12 face increased risks for developing serious alcohol problems and for developing serious alcohol problems with co-occurring disorders.

A sense of low self-esteem may be a more significant factor in the development of serious alcohol problems among young women than among young men.

Source: The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University (CASA). 2003. The Formative Years: Pathways to Substance Abuse Among Girls And Young Women Ages 8-22.