The 8-year course of alcohol abuse: Gender differences in social context and coping.
Women and men with alcohol use disorders were compared in terms of social context and coping methods and in terms of changes in these indexes associated with participation in professional treatment and Alcoholics Anonymous (AA).
The participants, initially untreated problem drinkers (230 women and 236 men), were followed for 8 years.
Women and men did not differ in the type of help received, but women had longer professional treatment.
At baseline, women had more stressors and fewer resources from family and relied more on avoidance coping and drinking to cope.
During the next 8 years, women, more than men, increased approach coping and reduced their use of avoidance coping and drinking to cope.
With control for baseline status, women had better social resource, coping, and drinking outcomes than men did at 1 year and 8 years.
Among men, but not among women, longer duration of professional treatment during year 1 was associated with improved approach coping.
A longer duration of AA attendance during year 1 and the full 8 years was associated with more resources from friends, more use of approach coping, and less drinking to cope.
In turn, more friends resources and approach coping and less drinking to cope were associated with better drinking outcomes.
Decreases in avoidance coping and drinking to cope were more strongly associated with better drinking outcomes among men than among women.
Thus it may be important to target men for formal services or self-help to increase their use of approach coping in efforts to maintain abstinence. Women’s strategies for improving their social context need further investigation for adaptation to male problem drinkers.