Alcoholism and Women

Published On: July 16, 2019

women and alcoholism

Alcohol addiction is an increasing problem among women today.

Women tend to be more prone to the ill effects of alcohol compared to their male counterparts because of their body composition.


First and foremost, men tend to weigh more and have more bodily fluids than women.

As a result, the average-sized woman will be impacted more by consuming alcohol than the average-sized man since alcohol lingers in body water before it leaves the system.

Female drinkers are therefore prone to the more adverse effects of alcohol consumption.

Social norms have also made alcoholism a serious problem among women. In many cultures today, it is more acceptable for women to drink.

In fact, some cultures actively encourage women to drink.

Since there are more women drinkers today and women get impacted more by alcohol than men, it’s easy to see why alcoholism is a health epidemic today among women with effects being felt by millions of families in America and beyond.

Alcoholism in women and seeking treatment

The likelihood of men to seek any treatment, let alone alcoholism treatment is very low. Society makes it more acceptable for a woman to be open and honest about their feelings and struggles.

Which is undoubtedly a good thing.

Men aren’t enabled to express their feelings and need for treatment. This makes it easier for alcohol-related health problems in women to be addressed.

The role of women in the family also contributes to treatment urgency.

Women tend to play a more prominent role in the family setting, creating urgency for treatment.

Women with young dependent children or those who have become pregnant cite their strong desire to safeguard and support their families as the main reason for getting alcoholism treatment.

Excessive consumption of alcohol

Women who drink four or more alcoholic drinks in less than two hours are considered to binge drink – consuming large amounts of alcohol in short periods of time.

Binge drinking is a serious problem for women in college campuses and bars with statistics showing that 40% of white women binge drink when they take alcohol.

Hispanics and black women follow at second and third place with only 10% of them binge drinking.

Binge drinking has some serious health risks in women.

The risks include; liver damage, dehydration, nausea, poor decision-making abilities, recklessness/risky behaviour, poor financial decisions, alcohol poisoning, increased sexual assault risks, increased partner violence risks, legal issues (such as driving under the influence) and increased alcoholism risks. In extreme cases, binge drinking can cause death.

Although most female binge drinkers aren’t alcoholics, they have a very high chance of becoming addicts.

This is true for women who continue binge drinking in the long-term.

If you have a female friend, family member, or colleague who needs assistance to stop binge drinking, search for professional help on their behalf immediately.

Does ethnicity play a role in female alcoholism?

Some ethnicities are associated with heavy drinking compared to others. White women, for instance, are considered the heaviest drinkers.

A record 71% of all white women develop heavy drinking habits at some instances in their lives.

Asian women are the least susceptible to female alcoholism, with only 37% becoming heavy drinkers in their lives.

This statistic is heavily linked to cultural practices of Asian ethnicities, which tend to discourage alcohol consumption among both men and women.

The percentage of black and Hispanic women who drink heavily is the same at 47%.

What health risks does alcoholism pose in women?

There are several specific alcohol-related medical risks common among women with alcohol problems but are non-existent or rare among their male counterparts.

These risks include:

a. Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

Expectant women who take alcohol increase their chances of fetal alcohol syndrome, which is characterized by both short-term and long-term health problems for their children.

Alcoholism among pregnant women is a serious problem with statistics showing that 10% of all pregnant women drink some alcohol once or more times during pregnancy.

Statistics also show that 2% of pregnant women drink alcohol excessively (binge drink).

This results in a multitude of disorders referred to as FASDs or Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders.

The disorders are noticeable in unborn and newborn children as health problems such as:

  • Poor coordination
  • Abnormal facial features
  • Difficulty focusing
  • Hearing problems
  • Vision problems
  • Learning disabilities
  • Hyperactivity
  • Heart conditions
  • Poor concentration
  • Poor memory
  • Pody weight problems
  • Speech/language problems
  • Low IQ, brain/head development
  • Problems with other vital organs like the kidneys

b. Breast cancer

Breast cancer is also more prevalent among women who binge drink. Excessive consumption of alcohol in women increases breast cancer risks by 9%.

Consuming two alcoholic drinks daily increases your chances of getting breast cancer by 10%. Consuming six or more alcoholic drinks daily increases breast cancer risks by another 3%.

c. Other health-related risks

Besides Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and breast cancer, alcoholism in women also increases risks of suffering from many other health conditions that include, but aren’t limited to; heart disease, alcoholic hepatitis, mental health conditions, brain damage, traumatic injury, liver disease and some forms of cancer.

Important statistics: Women and alcoholism

The number of alcohol-related deaths among women between 35 and 54 years has doubled.

According to a 2009 survey, 47% of women in the United States aged 12 and above admitted to drinking alcohol recently (in the past four weeks).

The number of liver cirrhosis-related deaths among women increased by 13% between the years 2002 and 2012.

Between the years 1999 and 2008, there was a 52% increase in the number of women hospitalized because of being intoxicated by alcohol.

Taking action

Do you know a woman who is currently struggling with alcoholism? Alcohol-related problems are no longer reserved for men.

Alcoholism is challenging all genders today with more women finding themselves on the receiving end.

Fortunately, women tend to recover faster and better from alcoholism. They are also more open and willing to get treated.

If you know someone (a friend, family member, colleague, even a stranger who is grappling with alcoholism, contact a medical professional immediately, preferably one who is knowledgeable about alcohol addiction, understand the needs of alcohol addicts and can refer addicts to good alcohol addiction facilities.

Addiction treatment tackles every aspect of addiction from the physical to the mental and emotional aspects which increase the chances of healing.

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