Sex and Gender Effects in Recovery From Alcohol Use Disorder
The current article provides a summary of biopsychosocial gender differences in alcohol use disorder (AUD), then reviews existing literature on gender differences in treatment access, retention, outcomes, and longer-term recovery. Among psychotherapies for AUD, there is support for the efficacy of providing female-specific treatment and for female-only treatment settings, but only when female-specific treatment is included. However, despite mandates from the National Institutes of Health to do so, there is little work thus far that directly compares genders on outcomes of specific psychotherapies or pharmacotherapies for AUD. Although existing research has mixed findings on sex and gender differences in overall outcomes, there are more consistent findings suggesting different mechanisms of behavior change among men and women in AUD treatment and long-term recovery. Thus, more work is needed that attends to gender and sex differences, including planning studies that are structured to examine not only gender-differentiated outcomes in treatment response but equally important, differences in treatment access and attendance as well as differences in mechanisms of change in drinking behavior.