Puberty, hormones, and sex differences in alcohol abuse and dependence

Neurotoxicol Teratol. Jan-Feb 2007;29(1):81-95. doi: 10.1016/ Epub 2006 Dec 15.


Sex differences in patterns of drinking and rates of alcohol abuse and dependence begin to emerge during the transition from late puberty to young adulthood. Increases in pubertal hormones, including gonadal and stress hormones, are a prominent developmental feature of adolescence and could contribute to the progression of sex differences in alcohol drinking patterns during puberty. This paper reviews experimental and correlational studies of gonadal and stress-related hormone changes and their effects on alcohol drinking and other associated actions of alcohol. Mechanisms are suggested by which reproductive hormones and stress-related hormones may modulate neural circuits within the brain reward system to produce sex differences in alcohol drinking patterns and vulnerability to alcohol abuse and dependence which become apparent during the late pubertal period.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alcoholism* / metabolism
  • Alcoholism* / physiopathology
  • Alcoholism* / psychology
  • Animals
  • Hormones / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Puberty*
  • Sex Characteristics*


  • Hormones