When it comes to women and alcoholism, gender plays a distinct role. This is because alcohol affects women differently than it does men. Each gender has some unique characteristics physically, mentally, and emotionally.
This changes the impact that certain environmental factors have on each gender. If you are a women, it is important to assess your risk before drinking alcohol.
According to the National Institute for Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism(1), one reason that women and alcoholism is a bad combination is due to the way alcohol is processed in the body. When alcohol passes through the digestive tract, it is dispersed in the body’s water.
A greater amount of water in the body results in a greater dilution of the alcohol. Women, however, have less body water per pound than men so the alcohol is more concentrated in their bodies than in men.
This means that a woman who drinks the same amount as a man will have a higher blood alcohol concentration level.
Furthermore, women have less of the enzyme dehydrogenase the breaks down alcohol in the stomach. Not only can this lead to issues with the law but can also cause a woman to be less inhibited and less in control of her body than a man who drinks the same amount.
In addition, this means that a woman’s bodily organs, including her brain, are exposed to more alcohol and therefore she has an increased risk of harmful effects from alcohol. Adding to this, hormone changes during the menstrual cycle can also negatively affect alcohol metabolism.
Some of the increased health risks for women include:
Are you concerned that you may have a drinking problem? Here is a self-assessment that you can take to help you determine whether or not you should seek help.
If you think that you may have a dependence on alcohol, it is time to seek help from a licensed counselor or psychologist who is experienced with addiction recovery. They will be able to help you assess your level of dependence and choose a treatment plan for recovery.
Alcoholism recovery typically requires a multi-faceted therapy approach that addresses mental and physical aspects of the debilitating disease. Typically a program will consist of three phases(2):
All three of these phases will involve your mind, body, and spirit, and will take commitment on your part.
If you are a women who enjoys an occasional drink, but you do not have a dependence on it, there are some things you can do to minimize your risk.