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The 8-year course of alcohol abuse: gender differences in social context and coping.

Timko C, Finney JW, Moos RH. The 8-year course of alcohol abuse: gender differences in social context and coping. Alcoholism, clinical and experimental research. 2005 Apr 1; 29(4):612-21.

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BACKGROUND: The aim of this study was to compare women (n = 230) and men (n = 236) who had alcohol use disorders in terms of social context and coping methods and in terms of changes in these indices associated with participation in professional treatment and Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). METHODS: Initially untreated problem drinkers were followed up for 8 years. RESULTS: Women and men did not differ in regard to 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 so than men, increased on approach coping and reduced their use of avoidance coping and drinking to cope. When baseline status was controlled, women had better social resource, coping, and drinking outcomes than men did at 1 year and 8 years. A longer duration of professional treatment during year 1 was associated with improved approach coping among men but not women. 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. CONCLUSIONS: 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 explication to be adapted for transfer to male problem drinkers.

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