Follow Us:

Study finds stress can lead to excessive drinking in women

“The role of stress in impaired control over drinking is understudied, especially in women,” Patock-Peckham said in a university news release.

SNS | New Delhi |

When someone says “I need a drink,” it’s usually because they’ve had a rough day. Now, new research suggests that stress is more likely to trigger heavy drinking in women than in men.

“Some people can intend to have one or two alcoholic beverages and stop drinking, but other people just keep going,” said study leader Julie Patock-Peckham. She’s head of the Social Addictions Impulse Lab at Arizona State University, in Tempe.

“The role of stress in impaired control over drinking is understudied, especially in women,” Patock-Peckham said in a university news release.

The new study, which included 105 women and 105 men, was conducted in a setting meant to mimic a bar, complete with bartender, bar stools and lively conversations.

In the study, men and women were randomly selected to either a stressful or non-stressful situation, then half were served alcohol and the other half three non-alcoholic drinks in a simulated bar setting. After that, all participants had access to an open bar for 90 minutes.

While both the men and women exposed to stress during the study drank heavier than the other participants, among the stressed men, those who started with alcohol consumed more of it overall than those who started with non-alcoholic beverages.

The stressed women, however, drank more across the board, no matter if they started out with an alcoholic drink or not.

“We know that both genes and the environment play a role in problematic drinking. We can’t do anything about the genes, but we can intervene with the environment. Stress and impaired control over drinking are tightly connected, and because stress is something we can manipulate, we tested whether stressors cause dysregulated drinking,” said Patock-Peckham, who leads the Social Addictions Impulse Lab at ASU.
“That women just needed the stress but men needed the push of already having alcohol on board shows how important this type of research is,” she noted. “The outcomes from alcohol use are not the same for men and women, and we cannot keep using models that were developed in men to help women.”