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Binge Drinking Differences In Men & Women

Published on May 28, 2021
Gender Differences In Binge Drinking | How Men And Women Differ

Binge drinking is a form of alcohol use. To binge drink is to have a drinking pattern that leads to a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or higher within a short amount of time.

Adult males who binge drink 5 or more drinks during a 2 hour time frame and adult females who binge drink 4 or more throughout this same time span are considered binge drinkers. 

This pattern of alcohol consumption, although not technically considered an alcohol use disorder, can still be harmful to your mental health and cause an increased risk of physical health problems. But why is the amount of alcohol for binge drinking different for men and women?

Gender Differences

Although this type of alcohol misuse mostly takes place among college students and young adults, people of all ages can partake in binge drinking. Gender roles have changed over the years and men and women may both struggle with this type of problem drinking.

However, when it comes to examining binge drinking by women and binge drinking by men, there are quite a few differences. 


Excessive drinking is a public health concern for men. Men are twice as likely to binge drink than women, according to alcohol research by the CDC. Men also have higher rates of alcohol-hospitalizations than women. 

Heavy episodic drinking can pose health risks, as can binge drinking behavior. For instance, those who partake in this type of substance abuse may significantly increase their drinking levels, causing blackouts and overdoses.

Potential Dangers

For men, some of the dangers that go along with consuming excessive amounts of alcohol cab include:

  • physical violence (including sexual assault)
  • suicide
  • prostate cancer
  • erectile dysfunction

In addition to these dangers, there are more alcohol-related problems that can affect heavy drinkers such as:

  • liver cancer
  • colon cancer
  • throat cancer
  • head and neck cancer
  • esophageal cancer 

Alcohol consumption in men is a risk factor for potentially developing many different types of cancers.


Women have a greater risk for health problems compared to their male counterparts. For instance, if the alcohol intake of a man and a woman are both the same, the women will most likely have a higher BAC. 

This is due, in part, to the fact that alcohol is stored mostly in body water and women weigh less than men on average. Therefore, if a man and a woman both drink the same number of alcoholic drinks within the same time, the woman will likely have a greater risk for harm.

Potential Dangers

Not only do women have a faster chance of developing alcohol dependence from their alcohol abuse than men, women may experience gender-specific issues that arise from binge drinking. 

For instance, binge drinking may cause some of the following consequences:

  • unintentional pregnancies
  • falls
  • car crashes
  • burns
  • drownings
  • sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)

Drinking Rates & Other Health Issues

Women’s drinking rates also do not show a clear gender gap between men and women when it comes to binge drinking. 

However, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) notes that alcohol misuse among women is rising and women who drink may have higher risks of developing alcohol-related health issues

Women abusing alcohol may have an increased risk of:

  • breast cancer
  • ​liver damage, including hepatitis
  • heart disease
  • pancreatic cancer
  • memory problems

Pregnant Women

The prevalence of heavy alcohol use in pregnant women may lead to serious concerns for the health of the child. Some of the problems that can occur include:

  • fetal alcohol spectrum disorders
  • miscarriage
  • stillbirth
  • sudden infant death syndrome

Gender-Specific Treatment For Alcohol Use Disorder

Sex differences are important to acknowledge when managing the effects of alcohol. At our treatment centers, we offer programs to help both men and women struggling with substance use, alcohol addiction, and other issues.

Contact our helpline to speak to a healthcare professional today.

Written by Ark Behavioral Health Editorial Team
This page does not provide medical advice.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - Binge Drinking
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - Data on Excessive Drinking
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - Excessive Alcohol Use is a Risk to Men’s Health
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism - Drinking Levels Defined
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism - What is Binge Drinking?
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism - Women and Alcohol
National Library of Medicine - Gender Differences in Binge Drinking
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration - Alcohol Use: Facts & Resources

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