Why Do Women Face Higher Risks of Alcohol Addiction?
Alcohol has stronger effects on women than on men, due to biological factors like body weight and how much water women’s bodies retain compared to men. These biological distinctions explain why women can tolerate alcohol less easily and will have a higher blood alcohol level than men consuming the same amount of alcohol. Women have a higher likelihood of blacking out from drinking too much and are also more likely to experience hangovers.
What Are the Health Risks for Women Drinking Alcohol?
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, alcohol presents many health risks for women.
Primary among the health risks for women who are associated with alcohol use is the risk of developing Alcohol Use Disorder, which is the clinical name for a spectrum of conditions ranging from alcohol abuse (drinking too much periodically) to alcohol dependence, to full-blown alcoholism.
Alcohol addiction is a serious, progressive disease with wide-ranging impacts on physical as well as mental health.
Alcohol may be more likely to result in brain damage in women than in men, according to the hypotheses of some researchers studying the effects of alcohol on women compared to men.
Alcohol-related blackouts, which create gaps in memory, suggest damage to the areas of the brain responsible for memory. Some researchers believe that there is shrinkage of portions of the brain in people who use alcohol beyond what the body can tolerate safely (which is a daily limit of 1 serving of alcohol).
Alcohol has been linked to breast cancer. It appears that women who drink one drink daily have a higher likelihood of developing breast cancer compared with those who do not drink that amount, and that chance increases when women drink even more than one drink daily.
Alcohol is notorious for leading to liver damage, such as cirrhosis, which is what happens when there is permanent liver scarring due to the use of alcohol. Women who regularly drink more than the body can safely process (again, a daily limit of 1 serving of alcohol) also have a higher risk of developing the potentially life-threatening liver condition of hepatitis.
Alcohol and Pregnancy
Drinking during pregnancy is unsafe for the mother and the infant. Known impacts of drinking during pregnancy include fetal alcohol disorder, higher risk of pre-term labor, brain damage, and physical as well as developmental impairment in children.
Alcohol use over a long period leads to heart disease. Women are at a greater risk of developing alcohol-induced heart disease than men, even when consuming a lower daily amount than men.
All in all, women experience the adverse health effects of alcohol to a greater degree than men do.
Why Should Women Consider Avoiding Alcohol Use Completely?
Some women choose not to drink at all, and an argument can certainly be made for that choice. It is recommended to avoid alcohol completely if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant, are under the age of 21 (underage drinking leads to disruption of normal brain development), taking medications that interact negatively with alcohol, or if you have a physical or mental health condition which is made worse by alcohol, such as anxiety or depression.
What Are the Treatment Programs for Alcohol?
Medically Supervised Detoxification
Alcohol represents a danger to your health during the withdrawal process and can result in death if not done with care. Seizures, delirium, and other complications are often part of the process.
It is wisest to detoxify in a medically supervised detoxification facility, especially if you also use medications of any kind in addition to alcohol, as not enough is known about interactions between alcohol and medications, especially ones that haven’t been on the market for so very long. Medical detoxification facilities have nurses and doctors on staff to monitor your withdrawals and provide medical support where necessary and will be able to intervene if something goes wrong.
Inpatient or Residential Treatment (Rehab)
Alcohol treatment is also offered in Inpatient Treatment Programs. These are your classic rehabilitation facilities, where you check in and receive treatment onsite as a stay-away option, usually for a length of time between one and three months.
Inpatient, also called Residential, is the best level of care in most cases of serious alcohol disorders because the safe, sequestered environment is critical to having a chance to stabilize away from temptations and triggers. These facilities also have trained medical staff onsite.
Outpatient Programs (IOP)
It is also possible to attend a day treatment program while still staying in your home and keeping your work schedule if that is advisable in your case.
Intensive Outpatient Programs offer addiction treatment services several days a week including during evening hours. Depending on how much care makes sense in your case, you may want to enroll in a higher or lower degree of structure and supervision to help you have success.
It’s important to understand that your level of care is something to be assessed by a medical professional. Generally speaking, more structure, safety, and length of treatment are better if it is possible to secure that for yourself, as time helps when healing from substance use.
Villa Kali Ma Can Assist Women With Alcohol Addiction
Villa Kali Ma offers addiction and mental health recovery programs for women who suffer from substance abuse and co-occurring disorders. We offer treatment at all levels of care, so whatever your circumstances, you will likely be able to find a program with us that fits your needs.
Our facilities are located in sunny Southern California close to San Diego. At the core of our program, we believe in the health and individuality of each woman, and that there are many paths back to wholeness. For that reason, we offer a range of holistic modalities alongside our core treatment program.