Stress and Alcoholism Development in Women

Links to other resources: Residential Treatment, Detox, Alcoholism Development in Men

Yesterday we discussed a study that looked at some of the factors that lead to the development of alcoholism in men. The study that we looked at was based on research done at Shandong University in China, and there were possible cultural differences that appeared in the research and may have affected the data compared to the results we could expect in an American setting. Today, we will look at factors that can contribute to the development of alcohol use disorders for people identifying as women, specifically concentrating on stress as a factor in alcohol use disorder among women. The researchers point to two distinct models for how stress and lack of social support systems can lead to alcohol use disorder for women. The first model states that lack of social support directly undermines physical and emotional health of women, without regard to stress as an independent factor. The indirect model describes social support simply as a buffer that can mitigate the effects that are ultimately caused by stress itself. For a somewhat complicated set of reasons, previous studies, including Cosley et al., have identified the indirect model, or the buffer model, as the model that best describes how social support effects the well-being of women under high levels of stress, on depressive symptoms among stressed middle-aged women, and on trauma symptoms among women who suffered childhood maltreatment.

These subjects are of paramount importance to our discussion of alcoholism developing in female patients in early adulthood, as childhood trauma and stress are two of the largest risk factors associated with problem drinking. The study we looked at previously described how childhood trauma can affect both men and women and lead to substance use disorders in later life, but it did also describe some differences in the types of traumas faced by men and women. We know from various separate studies that young women are particularly likely to face sexual trauma in childhood when compared to men, and there is also evidence that emotional abuse from parents could be more prevalent in the lives of young females. The study we are focusing on for this article addresses the ways that social support and stress can affect development of alcohol problems in female subjects aged 25-39. If you or a loved one is looking for information on the best drug and alcohol rehab in Florida, please call our intake professionals today on the number listed above.

The authors considered the variables tobacco and illicit drug use. The authors stated that they initially believed that socioeconomic or demographic factors could affect the results of their work, especially when it came to smoking and previous drug use, possibly because of a higher prevalence of smoking among certain demographics. However, according to the collected data, there was no strong association of sociodemographic characteristics with either alcohol use or perceived stress. It was eventually found that women who reported never having smoked also reported not having drinking problems, regardless of other factors. This fits with my own experience of working around substance use disorder. Smoking is very prevalent among people recovering and struggling for substance use disorders, in my experience, and that fact remains even if you look at different demographics. I have talked about this phenomenon before on this blog, and I believe the effort to help people stop smoking cigarettes should be a key goal as we move into the future of substance abuse treatment. Florida Springs, one of the best drug and alcohol rehabs in Florida, and the sponsor of this blog, allows patients in drug and alcohol rehab to smoke or vape during their stay in treatment, but they also provide smoking cessation resources to those patients who wish to stop smoking while they begin the process of recovery from drug and alcohol abuse.

The study shows a strong correlation between social support structures and an ability to avoid ongoing drinking problems among women. It seems that most women in the study drank alcohol, and most women in the study experienced some levels of stress that concerned them in daily life. The women who were attending primary care doctors’ appointments most often, and those who reported higher levels of support from family and friends were the most likely to be dealing with stress more effectively and leading to lower levels of problem alcohol use. The number of friends and family members necessary for strong support was similar to other studies among both men and women, with women who have 4 or more strong relationships to lean on showing lower levels of stress and alcohol use disorder. This study seems to be more strong evidence that among women there is an important buffering factor that goes along with social support structures and dealing with stress. As we saw that both people and things like regular doctors’ visits were able to help the respondents deal with stress without necessarily having to use alcohol to excess. This data supports the things we regularly talk about on this blog, including the need for people in drug and alcohol rehab, in Florida and elsewhere, to start building a support structure when they seek treatment. Even if a person struggling with drug and alcohol addiction does not have a support structure in place when they begin the process of recovery, groups like AA and NA, and inpatient rehabs that participate in group and family therapy as we do at Florida Springs Wellness and Recovery Center, can help patients begin to rebuild a broken social network and support structure. If you or a loved one needs more information on alcohol and drug treatment in Panama City, please call us today.

By T.A. Cannon


The Social Support Buffering Effect in the Relationship Between Perceived Stress and Alcohol Use Among Brazilian Women. By: de Souza, Jacqueline, de Almeida, Letícia Yamawaka, de Oliveira, Jordana Luiza Gouvêa, Miasso, Adriana Inocenti, Pillon, Sandra Cristina, Moll, Marciana Fernandes, Community Mental Health Journal, 00103853, Oct2019, Vol. 55, Issue 7.