Alcohol and Men’s Brains: Why the Impact is So Different to Women

When men and women drink, their brains and bodies respond differently. This much has been known for quite awhile and now research is looking into why this is so significant. A glass of wine or beer will change how a man’s brain works in terms of the reward system. This includes the amygdala and hippocampus, which tell a person when something good is happening and to keep responding to this stimuli. Find out why it appears men are more susceptible to the influence of alcohol on this part of the brain and how to navigate this challenge.

Neurobiology 101

When men and women drink alcohol, the brain feels it. The reward pathway is particularly impacted for people who drink both short and long term. Men, it appears, with a history of alcoholism, experience a decline in how their reward systems respond over time than those who did not drink. Men and women drink for different reasons, as much as any individual drinks for their own reasons, but when it comes to considering how neurobiology plays a role, men seem to have slight differences in response. Excessive drinking is often linked with anxiety disorders in women while men respond with antisocial behaviors. Treatment protocols should vary based on how men and women respond to alcohol in their brains and bodies. Research is still looking into ways the brain is impacted by the use of alcohol. Some good news: both women and men can heal some of the damage to the reward pathway in their brains by stopping drinking, though it is not clear just how much healing can take place. There are too many variables to account for which determine how much can heal but it is possible, and hopeful, to give the brain an opportunity to restore some of its function if a man, or woman, stops drinking.

Ways to Heal

Women are typically more susceptible sooner to smaller amounts of alcohol, according to research. Drinking can impact a woman’s body differently over time than men, who are more likely to suffer from the effects of liver damage related to alcoholism. The key is to know more about why a person drinks so much and how they can take steps to heal from the challenges of alcoholism. Regardless of gender or research, drinking too much over time can have detrimental effects on many parts of a person’s life. Here are some things to consider:

  • Alcoholism puts all people at risk for mood disorders, mental health issues, and other challenges. The key to healing the brain in this regard is to find help to quit drinking through a treatment program that can support both mental and physical healing
  • Moderation is key to not experiencing such detrimental effects. Some people struggle with drinking only one drink, while some can moderate how much they drink. For people who struggle with alcoholism, it is likely they will never be able to drink only one drink without consuming too much and thus should quit drinking altogether to save their health
  • Research is not the end game for people who drink alcohol. There are many factors that play into a person’s risk and challenge with alcohol. For men, especially, the key is to identify what the problem is (alcoholism) and work to heal the layers of historical trauma and issues in life that keep a person locked in the cycle of addiction

Healing from addiction may look different for men than women, but the key to success in recovery is the same. Healing takes acknowledgement a problem exists. For a person to seek help, they will need a community of people who support their journey and treatment professionals who can help them detox, get sober, and start a new slate in their recovery. This is the best pathway to getting on the road to healing.

The Last Resort provides a safe, supportive environment for men in a retreat-like setting. If you are struggling to quit drinking, you can trust the Last Resort to have professionals who will come alongside you and provide space to heal. If you are ready to move forward in recovery, give us a call us to find out more: 512-750-6750.