While both women and men consume alcohol, differences in biology affect how women digest and process alcohol. Due to chemical differences between the sexes, women’s bodies take longer to process it. As a result, women tend to experience the effects of alcohol much faster. Understanding the impact of alcohol consumption and women’s health can help make individuals — especially women — understand that increased health risks of drinking and addiction.
How Does Alcohol Affect Women’s Health?
There is no significant difference between the men and women, in terms of the immediate effects of alcohol consumption. However, since more alcohol is absorbed and remains in women’s body longer, it increases the overall effects of drinking. Therefore, the more a woman drinks, the longer they will remain under the effects of alcohol. Alcohol is a depressant that can cause a host of symptoms, including:
Regardless of gender differences, women and men are both at risk for developing dependency and addiction. However, women need to drink more in order to feel the euphoric effects of alcohol. As they do, their bodies will gradually develop a tolerance to alcohol. As such, they will need to drink large amounts of alcohol to achieve the desired results.
Unfortunately, this can lead to a dependence on alcohol and an alcohol abuse problem. Aside from the risks of alcohol addiction, other long-term women’s health issues that alcohol abuse can cause include:
Alcohol abuse alters brain functions and affects brain activity. Ongoing abuse can cause brain shrinkage in various parts of the brain, including memory centers and decision-making centers. These changes increase the risks of blackouts, and both short-term and long-term permanent memory loss.
Increased Risks of STDs
The effects of alcohol on decision-making can lead to poor judgment and choices. Combined with lowered inhibitions, women with alcohol abuse disorders are just as likely to engage in unprotected sex with multiple partners, just like men. Unfortunately, unprotected sexual encounters increase the risks of women developing STDs.
Increased Risks of Unwanted Pregnancies
With memory loss problems and unprotected sexual encounters, the risks of getting pregnant also increase. Women struggling with alcohol addiction may forget to take birth control or remember when they last took it.
FASD (Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders)
If a woman is pregnant and abusing alcohol, their unborn child experiences the effects of alcoholism. FASD can affect fetal development, result in low birth weights, birth defects, learning disabilities, and other types of disabilities. In some cases, drinking excessively could lead to miscarriages.
Women have a higher risk of liver damage because it takes longer for their bodies to process and remove alcohol. Long-term liver damage could include cirrhosis and alcoholic hepatitis.
Research studies have been conducted into the long-term effects of alcohol and breast cancer. Women struggling with alcohol substance abuse have up to a 50% increased risk of developing breast cancer than women who don’t drink. It’s important to understand the effects of alcohol consumption and women’s health because even moderate alcohol consumption can increase the odds of developing breast cancer.
Mental Health Disorders
Alcohol abuse can trigger latent mental health disorders such as anxiety disorders and depression. The symptoms typically manifest when the effects of alcohol start wearing off. In order to deal with the symptoms of untreated mental health disorders, some people may resort to drinking more.
Women struggling with alcohol addiction are more likely to develop heart disease compared to their addicted male counterparts. This is due to the fact that women’s bodies tend to absorb alcohol for longer periods than men do. As a result, the heart can become weakened as well, which increases the risk of heart attacks.
Alcohol consumption has been demonstrated to affect the hormones responsible for fertility and reproductive health. Women who drink are more likely to experience fertility issues, as well as disruptions in their menstrual cycles.
Increased Risks of Sexual Abuse
Women are more likely than men to be abused sexually when under the influence of alcohol. Blackouts and passing out while drunk can lead to increased vulnerability, resulting in unwanted sexual encounters.
Alcohol Consumption and Women’s Health — How Alcohol Addiction Treatment Differs for Women
Even though women only need a smaller amount of alcohol to experience its effects, once they develop a dependence and addiction to alcohol, the biological and chemical differences between men make it much harder for women to stop. Additionally, women face other barriers men do not. For example, they may need assistance with childcare when they want to get help with their addiction. Women can also be more fearful of losing custody of their children when they are a single parent. As a result, they can be more reluctant to get help with their alcohol addiction.
The Importance of Treatment for Women
Drugs and alcohol don’t discriminate. They will destroy the lives of both men and women with no regard for gender. According to the medical profession, women are especially vulnerable to health issues involving substance abuse.
At our Crestview Recovery Center facilities in North Carolina, we proudly offer gender-specific care for women. In every case, we place all of our emphasis on health and wellness in addiction treatment. Our motivation comes from our desire to treat the whole client as well as the addiction, and get to the root of addiction in order to build a strong foundation for recovery.
Women’s Alcohol Addiction Treatment in Asheville, NC
Crest View Recovery Center understands women need specific care and uniquely tailored programs to help them overcome their alcohol addiction. Our goal is to help women focus on improving their health and wellness as part of their treatment program. We offer a wide range of options, including intensive outpatient, residential, trauma, holistic, and dual diagnosis treatment programs. We want to enable women to establish a solid foundation for their sobriety for long-term success. To learn more about our women’s alcohol addiction treatment programs, please feel free to contact us or call us at 866-350-5622 today!