The Effects of Alcoholism in Men

Consequences of Abuse Can Differ From Those in Women

Man in bar sipping cocktail
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The statistics are not good. According to the 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), 14.1 million adults over the age of 18 had an alcohol use disorder. Of these individuals, 8.9 million were men and 5.2 million were women. Approximately 95,000 people die each year due to alcohol-related causes.

Among adults, men are more likely than women to be heavy drinkers and more likely to be alcohol dependent. While the physical effects of alcohol use are largely similar for men and women, there are conditions that affect men more frequently and others that are entirely unique.

Alcoholism and Injury

When compared to men, women often have it harder when it comes to the health-related consequences of drinking. Alcohol-induced liver diseases such as cirrhosis and hepatitis develop more quickly in women, and more alcoholic women die from cirrhosis than do alcoholic men.

Moreover, women who are alcohol dependent are at greater risk of developing liver cancer as well as certain cancers related to the digestive tract.

While alcoholic men are also at high risk of cirrhosis and liver cancer, where they exceed is in rates of alcohol-related injury. According to a review from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), men are more likely to take risks while drinking, evidenced by markedly higher rates of alcohol-related deaths and hospitalizations.

The CDC also reports that:

  • Men are almost twice as likely as women to have blood alcohol concentration levels of 0.08% or greater.
  • Men are more likely to have a motor vehicle crash while drinking than women.
  • Men account for almost 75% of deaths due to excessive drinking.
  • Men are more likely to exhibit aggression while drinking.
  • Men have are three times more likely to die by suicide and are more likely to have been drinking prior to their death.

If you are having suicidal thoughts, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988 for support and assistance from a trained counselor. If you or a loved one are in immediate danger, call 911.

For more mental health resources, see our National Helpline Database.

These statistics are largely informed by how much more men can drink compared to women. Because of their lower body mass, women will tend to feel the effects of alcohol faster and will typically experience the chronic symptoms of the disease 10 to 20 years earlier.

This accounts for why men are more likely to experience alcohol-related psychosis, simply because they have a higher capacity for consumption and fewer short- to medium-term consequences.

Alcohol and Health-Related Deaths

While cirrhosis and liver cancer are the two primary health concerns for both men and women with long-term alcohol dependence, there are certain conditions for which a man is more likely to die.

According to research from the School of Public Health at the University of Minnesota, there are certain health conditions for which alcoholic men are at higher risk of death. When compared to a matched set of men and women over the age of 65, the researchers found that:

  • Men were twice as likely to die of liver cancer.
  • Men were more than four times more likely to die of mouth, throat, or esophageal cancer.
  • Men were three times more likely to die of a stroke.
  • Men were more than twice as likely to die of alcoholic liver disease.
  • Men were nine times more likely to die of alcohol-associated heart disease.

Alcohol and Sexual Dysfunction

While many of the consequences of heavy drinking are related to long-term abuse, there are impacts that can affect men over the short- to medium-term. Chief among these is male sexual dysfunction.

  • Excessive alcohol use can directly interfere with the function of the testicles and affect the normal production of male hormones. When this happens, a man can experience erectile dysfunction, impotence, and infertility.
  • Over the medium- to long-term, this can affect secondary sex characteristics, including the loss of facial and chest hair and the abnormal growth of breast tissue (gynecomastia).

Moreover, erectile dysfunction medications like Viagra (sildenafil), Levitra (vardenafil), and Cialis (tadalafil) are less able to be absorbed if used with alcohol, minimizing the benefits of the drugs.

3 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Alcohol facts and statistics.

  2. CDC. Excessive alcohol use is a risk to men's health.

  3. Stahre M, Simon M. Alcohol-related deaths and hospitalizations by race, gender, and age in California. The Open Epidemiology Journal. 2010;3:3-15.

By Jerry Kennard, PhD
 Jerry Kennard, PhD, is a psychologist and associate fellow of the British Psychological Society.