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Women And Alcohol: Understanding Alcoholism

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women and alcoholAlcoholism is a powerful disease. It impairs judgment, changes behavior, affects relationships, and can result in a number of severe health problems across multiple body systems.

Women and Alcohol

Addiction disorders affect both women and men with equal intensity, but due to physiological differences, specific effects can vary greatly between genders. Today we take a look at the risks associated with women and alcohol abuse, or more specifically, alcoholism.

Biological Differences

Women’s bodies handle and process alcohol differently than men’s. Part of the reason for this is simple biology: on average, women are smaller than men. But there’s more to it than that. As the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism explains, there is also less water in a woman’s body than a man’s. Even if a woman and man weighed the same amount and consumed the same amount of alcohol, the blood alcohol concentration will typically be higher in that of the woman, which inherently poses higher health risks.

What is Considered Too Much?

According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Center for Disease Control (CDC), “excessive drinking” isn’t as much as many people tend to think. For women, consuming eight drinks per week is considered excessive. Again highlighting the natural differences between men and women, the number is 14 for men.

When Excessive Drinking Turns to Dependence

A drink is defined as 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of liquor. As a woman, drinking more than eight drinks weekly isn’t just a bad idea; it’s a health hazard. Drinking increases the risk of things like vehicular accidents, violence and injury, as well as health problems like high blood pressure, liver disease, heart disease, stroke, and some cancers, among other issues.

Worse still, excessive drinking can become an addiction. Once this happens, alcohol abuse turns to alcoholism, a progressive disease. This leads to intense cravings (sometimes as strong as the biological drive to find food), physical dependence (including withdrawal symptoms when alcohol use is abruptly stopped) and a general loss of control.

Women and Alcohol Dependence Turns Deadly

One research study found that the mortality rate among alcoholic women was nearly twice that of alcoholic men, and more than four times that of women who aren’t alcoholics.

Somehow, though, the subject of women and alcohol abuse is still somewhat taboo. Some research is being done, but it’s hardly being broadcast. For many women, alcohol abuse remains a secret until it reaches the point of alcoholism and disease.

This includes women like Elizabeth Peña, a prominent actress who starred in hit movies like La Bamba, and the popular television comedy Modern Family. Sadly, Peña’s personal struggle with alcohol came to an end this fall. As TMZ reported, her death certificate showed that she suffered and ultimately died from complications due to cirrhosis of the liver. Her death was a direct result of alcohol abuse.

Getting Help For Alcoholism

If you find yourself or a loved one drinking daily, using alcohol to escape personal problems, or losing control under the influence, get help. Regardless of whether you’re male or female, drinking alcohol has serious risks – some of them deadly. Whether it’s for you, or someone you care about, The Watershed can help with overcoming alcohol addiction. Call today: 1-800-861-1768.

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