Women’s Alcohol Problems Elude Diagnosis

Women with alcohol problems may be under diagnosed because their symptoms can differ from men’s, a new study suggests.

Health Behavior News Service reported April 23 that researcher Penny Nichol and colleagues from the University of Minnesota noted that while men and women share some symptoms of nondependent drinking problems, men are more likely to engage in binge drinking and violence — behaviors more likely to raise red flags among clinicians.

Researchers looked at pairs of twins who were mostly white, middle-ages and married, focusing on 105 symptoms commonly associated with alcohol use. Nichols and colleagues suggested that the gender differences in symptoms may mean that a separate, female-oriented measure may be needed to detect drinking problems among women. The researchers noted, for example, that some female symptoms of problem drinking, like feelings of guilt and depression, are not even included in standard medical texts.

The research appears in the May 2007 issue of the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.

Reference: Nichol PE, Krueger RF, Iacono WG. (2007) Investigating Gender Differences in Alcohol Problems: A Latent Trait Modeling Approach. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, 31(5): 783-794;

The Diagnosis and Treatment of Drug and Alcohol Abuse



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