According to a recent study performed by researchers at the University of Vermont, a person’s gender plays a very large factor in both when a person drinks and how they feel the next day.
Put simply, men are more likely than women to drink when they are angry: The day after a heavy bout of drinking women suffer more than men.
The study included 246 people described as “problem drinkers” between the ages of 21 and 82 who participated in a specialized alcohol treatment program. During the study, they received phone calls every single day from an interactive voice-recording program for six months and were told to describe their levels of stress, their drinking habits, and their overall moods.
After the final compilation and analysis, researchers determined that anger drove the male participants to drink. Specifically, the analysis indicated that a man who self-reported that he felt angry was much more likely to drink the following day than a man who did not feel angry. As a rule, the female participants actually self-reported feeling “depressed” after drinking large quantities of alcohol.
Many of the men and women may have been in the early or middle stage of the disease of alcoholism.
As the effects of the chemicals in the alcohol alter brain physiology, ‘problem drinkers’ are often in an early to middle stage of the addiction, feeling mental and emotional confusion while they and their families experience over-reacting to minor situations. Symptoms of the early and middle progression include mild depression, anxiety, feeling short and long term memory loss, irritation with friends, sharp and fault finding, and easily angered by overreacting to minor events.
Early Stages of Alcoholism include:
- Increase in alcohol needed to be ‘buzzed’
- Drinking to calm nerves
- ‘Pre-loading’ before a drinking function or coming home
- Desire to continue drinking when others can stop
- Uncomfortable in situations where there is no alcohol (social, sporting events)
- Relief drinking begins at this point
- Occasional memory lapses after heavy drinking
- Preoccupation with alcohol (thinking/planning about when you can drink)
- Becoming irritated when your drinking is discussed leading to confusion for friends and families of those drinkers who continue into the second phase.
At this point in the progression, Rationalization phase begins to dominate and Denial develops as the drinker is confused as to why they can’t be a social drinker like their friends even though they desperately want to be social drinkers. The guilt and shame they feel, lead to defensiveness and depression.
A person who might hold the belief that drinking improves their mood may instead want to pay particular attention to how they actually feel the day after drinking heavily. When they find that the drinking actually made them feel worse, it may give them pause the next time, or seek help for Outpatient Alcohol Treatment.