Antisocial Alcoholism Increasing in Men and Women
WebMD News Archive
Dec. 16, 1999 (Atlanta) -- The prevalence of antisocial alcoholism may be
increasing in both men and women, according to a report in the December issue
of the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & ExperimentalResearch.
Physicians say prevention and early intervention efforts are critical,
particularly for those with a family history of alcoholism.
Researchers interviewed almost 2,000 participants about their alcohol use
and family history of alcoholism. The sample was then divided into subgroups of
those born before 1930, those born between 1930 and 1949, and those born after
The data showed that those born after 1949 began using alcohol earlier, had
a higher incidence of alcoholism before the age of 25, and exhibited more
alcohol-related antisocial behavior such as fights, police involvement, or
drunk driving. Additionally, a positive family history was strongly correlated
with antisocial alcoholism, and the decreasing age of alcohol use was
especially pronounced in women.
"Changes in our society have led to an increase in behavior that was
once strongly discouraged, particularly in women," says Scott Stoltenberg,
PhD, the chief investigator. "Fifty years ago it was socially unacceptable
for women to drink in bars. Perhaps the influence of society can now be used to
decrease this behavior." Stoltenberg says a public education campaign could
help delay drinking among teenagers.
"If we can delay regular drinking until the twenties, we can prevent a
whole host of alcohol-related problems," says Stoltenberg, who is with the
department of psychiatry at the University of Michigan. "But so far, there
hasn't been any prevention efforts on a national scale. A television awareness
campaign for schoolkids could be effective especially if it focuses on family
history as a risk factor."
Psychiatrists who treat addiction agree. "Kids with a family history of
alcoholism need education from an early age," says James Parker, MD, an
addiction psychiatrist at the University of Alabama. "Instead of hiding
their history, parents need to teach kids why even moderate drinking is not
healthy for them. For this to work, though, parents have to be very open."
Psychiatrists say early intervention is also important.