10 Nov How Alcohol Affects Women Differently

Alcoholism and other forms of addiction are different for everyone, and each individual case comes with its own set of challenges. Many of these individual recovery challenges are gender specific, because alcohol has a different effect on women than it does on men. The reasons for drinking, the way that alcohol is metabolized, and its physical effects on the body are different for women, which is why gender specific recovery treatment is needed for the best recovery results.

The Reasons Women Drink

Alcoholism develops as alcohol abuse takes place over a period of time. Both men and women begin drinking, and continue doing so, for different reasons. Women who are more likely to drink alcohol fall into the following demographics:

Those who are having relationship issues with partners or other loved ones.

Those who are unmarried, separated, or divorced.

Those who have been sexually abused, either in the past or currently.

Those whose husbands have a drinking problem.

Women are also at risk for certain co-occurring disorders, such as depression, that can often fuel substance abuse and alcoholism.

Basic Biology

Alcohol has a greater effect on women than it does on men who have consumed the same amount. Through a process called “telescoping,” the alcohol consumed by women has more influence pound for pound than that of men. This is because women are generally smaller than men and our body composition is different. Generally speaking, women have less water and more fat in our bodies. Alcohol is less diluted by water, and more readily captured by fat in the female body. The ADH enzyme that breaks down alcohol before it enters the bloodstream is also less active in women than in men. The cumulative effect of these differences adds up to women being more physically sensitive to the effects of alcohol than men who have consumed the same amount.

Gender Specific Risks

Because alcohol has a greater effect on women, our organs and tissues are at greater risk of damage from lower doses of alcohol. Some of the gender specific health risks that alcohol poses to women include :

Increased risk of breast cancer.
Complications during pregnancy.
Brain damage due to alcohol consumption occurs at a higher rate among women.
Women who have been drinking are at a greater risk for being victims of sexual assault or other acts of violence.
Poor nutrition is more common among female alcoholics.
Sleeping problems, depression, heart failure, and other disorders are more common among women who drink.

While alcoholism is more common among men, women suffer more physical damage at the hands of alcohol earlier, and with less alcohol having been consumed.

Author: Chasity Edwards

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