Men & women

Patterns of alcohol use between men and women differ in New Zealand, with men still being more likely to drink compared with women. 


Among drinkers, men are more likely to drink daily or several times a week, drink heavily on a single occasion and drink heavily more often.80 Men are at higher risk of experiencing harm from their own drinking and physical assault related to alcohol80,81 and experience more deaths from alcohol-related causes.82


Women have higher blood alcohol levels after drinking the same amount of alcohol as men, so can get drunk faster and can suffer the toxic and lethal effects of alcohol poisoning at a lower dose.

This is because , on average, women:

  • are  smaller than men, so have less fluid in their bodies to distribute alcohol around (having a higher fat to water ratio)
  • probably have less of the enzyme needed to break down alcohol in the liver.37

Women who drink alcohol are at increased risk of developing breast cancer9 and drinking while pregnant increases the risk of harm to the unborn baby.35,57

Go to an article about women’s alcohol use and harms compared to men’s in the AlcoholNZ June 2015 issue