Women are more likely to consume alcohol excessively as a result of stress

Stress alone can cause women to consume alcohol excessively, a risk not as common in men, according to researchers at Arizona State University.

Published in the journal Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, the Arizona-based team had set up a study in which 105 female and 105 male participants received alcoholic beverages to consume in a simulated bar. The participants were subjected to both stressful and non-stressful situations.

“They were randomized into different groups, with some either experiencing a stressful situation and others a non-stressful situation,” the authors explained in a news release.

“Next, half the participants received an alcoholic drink that was equivalent to three cocktails, and the other half received three non-alcoholic drinks.”

Prior to the study, one of the co-authors described the role of stress in impaired control over drinking an ‘understudied’ area, particularly among women.

According to the researchers, women who experienced stress regardless of context were more likely to engage in heavy drinking.

“Analyses showed that exposure to stress was associated with heavier ad libitum drinking,” the authors determined. “This effect was qualified by a three-way interaction; women who received a stressor and no prime dose (placebo) reached higher BACs, whereas men who received a stressor and a prime reached higher BACs.”