John F. Kelly, PhD, associate director of the MGH Center for Addiction Medicine, and co-author Bettina B. Hoeppner, PhD investigated reports from more than 1,700 participants, who enrolled in a federally funded trial called Project MATCH, which compared three different ways to treat alcohol addiction.
Participants were able to attend AA meetings and reported if they were successful in continued sobriety. Evidence suggests treatment works differently for men and women, and looking at these differences may lead to new strategies in the future for more effective recovery. Kelley says, “These differences may reflect differing recovery challenges related to gender-based social roles and the contexts in which drinking is likely to occur.”
Both men and women who changed their social connections benefited, but it was more important for men. Learning how to avoid friends who pressured drinking, and staying away from social situations where alcohol was a factor was also more important for men.
Women benefited by learning how to confidently choose against drinking when they felt sad, depressed, or anxious. Managing unhappy emotions was incredibly important for women. Interestingly, this was not a factor with men.
“It’s important to understand that men and women trying to recover from alcoholism use AA and other resources in different ways to cope with the kinds of risks of relapse which are pertinent to their particular social situation and life context,” says Kelly.
AA is a wonderful tool for both men and women, and there are also many treatment centers that can help those in need. If you, or someone you love is suffering with substance abuse, Passport to Recovery offers a short list of credible addiction treatment centers that can help you start the road to recovery.