Washington: A new study suggests that women, on an average, seek alcohol treatment between 4 to 5 years earlier than men.
The term "telescoping" refers to a more rapid progression of alcohol-related diseases in women.
The new study looks at gender differences among individuals seeking treatment for a substance use disorder.
While certain aspects of the findings confirm telescoping in women, others do not.
Epidemiological studies have revealed that historical differences between men and women in substance use - such as lifetime dependence rates, and quantities of alcohol consumed - have narrowed in recent decades.
However, recent examination of gender differences in drinking patterns and rapidity of disease progression in women, generally referred to as "telescoping," among treatment-seekers is largely lacking.
Results from the new study of these gender differences in a sample of individuals seeking treatment for a substance use disorder are only partially supportive of gender-contingent telescoping.
"Historically, alcoholism has been considered a `male disease` due to its markedly higher prevalence among men," Ben Lewis, a postdoctoral associate in the psychiatry department at the University of Florida as well as corresponding author for the study, said.
"More recently it has been recognized that while men may have a higher prevalence, women may be uniquely vulnerable to negative consequences of chronic drinking.
"In particular, it was recognized that women might experience a ` telescoping` effect, wherein they progress more rapidly through various stages of the disease," he said.
Women, on average, sought treatment between four to five years earlier than men; in other words, 10 years versus 15 years.
Although the study does not specifically address why this is the case, it is important for primary physicians and first line health care workers to know that it takes, on average, approximately 10 years to progress from self-reported problems with alcohol to treatment for women, and approximately 15 years to progress from self reported problems with alcohol to treatment for men.
The study is set to be published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.