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09-01 Differences in alcohol use and abuse among male and female teens

Posted in alcohol rehab, Recovery

Differences in alcohol use and abuse among male and female teens

Nothing the differences between men and women is a story as old as time. In relation to alcohol use and its associated consequences, available research provides a comprehensive picture of what aspects the two sexes share and what qualities set them apart. Yet regardless of gender, underage drinking is a pertinent problem among all adolescents. Any added knowledge helps parents, peers and clinicians alike to better focus their preventative measures and save more lives.

In an overview of key findings from the University of Michigan, the 2011 “Monitoring the Future” study showed a large increase in U.S. youth drug use. Between eighth and 12th grade, students increased their consumption from 15.9 to 44.4 percent. Interestingly enough, the substance-related behavior among teenage boys and girls did not predict significant differences in adult addiction between genders. In addition, data from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) in 2013 found that men and women between the ages of 12 and 17 showed similar rates for drinking activity, with 11.2 percent for male teens and 11.9 percent for female teens.

Multiple studies have sought to explain these shared qualities between male and female teenagers. In, “Gender Differences in Factors Influencing Alcohol Use and Drinking Progression Among Adolescents,” researchers Marya T. Schulte, M.S., Danielle Ramo, Ph.D., and Sandra A. Brown, Ph.D., from UC San Diego and UC San Francisco, respectively, categorized the primary influences of adolescent substance use variation. They include:

  • Biological influences, such as genetics and neurobiological make-up
  • Individual factors, like personal expectations of alcohol and personality characteristics
  • Hormonal and physiological changes, including alcohol sensitivity and neurocognitive development
  • Socialization processes, which consist of the family environment and parental monitoring, as well as gender roles
  • Comorbidity, such as using multiple substances and struggling with an underlying mental disorder

While there is a lack of gender differences when it comes to general alcohol use among teens, the way each sex deals with substance-related symptoms over time is notably distinct. This idea is supported by the 1994 study, “Gender roles as mediators of sex differences in expressions of pathology,” conducted by Rebecca Huselid and Mary Lynne Cooper. The researchers found that out of a random sample of 2,013 adolescents, participants with more masculine attributes were linked to lower levels of internal distress, while feminine traits were associated with less external behavior problems.

For teens, Sovereign Health Rancho San Diego is available to provide more information on drug treatments or other behavioral health programs. Please call 866-577-3633 or speak with a quality consultant online.

Written by Lee Yates, Sovereign Health Group writer

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