Alcohol Problems Specifically Related to Women

alcohol problems specifically related to womenApril is Alcohol Awareness Month—and there are several alcohol problems specifically related to women and drinking, such as, but not limited to, pregnancy, child-rearing, liver disease, sexual assault, and sexually transmitted infections.[1]

Women who are pregnant or trying to conceive should not drink.1 The risks to an unborn child are huge and can affect them throughout their entire lifetime.1 Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders are 100 percent preventable by expectant mothers abstaining from alcohol.1 There is no amount that is safe during pregnancy, and as many are unplanned, drinking at a time when you could become pregnant, or be pregnant too early to detect, creates a risk for the baby.1

Also, alcohol-related liver diseases are higher in women than they are men.1 Women are also at an increased risk of heart damage from drinking.1 There are gender differences in the storage of fat, biochemical processes, metabolism, and other factors, so women should expect more medical consequences from drinking compared with their male friends.1

Here are a few facts:

  • Drinking equal amounts, women absorb more alcohol when they drink compared with men, and they take a longer time to break it down and remove it from their bodies.1 The difference in a women’s body composition and chemistry is the cause.1 Even when drinking equal amounts, women tend to have higher levels of alcohol in their blood and are often impaired sooner and for a longer period of time.1
  • Alcohol also leaves the body at a slower rate in women who take oral contraception.1 Therefore, women who take birth control pills are at a greater risk for alcohol impairment.1
  • Binge drinking is a risk factor for sexual assault, especially among young women in college settings.1 The risk for sexual assault and rape increase when both the perpetrator and victim have consumed alcohol before the attack occurs.1
  • Women who binge drink are more likely to have unprotected sex, and multiple sexual partners, which can increase their risk of acquiring HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.1

As female drinkers are biologically different than men, they are also socially different.1 Women with children are often reluctant to ask for help with a drinking problem, as they fear they will lose custody of their children.1 Older women (55 – 64) are more likely to drink at home rather than in public, becoming less visible to friends and the community as drinkers, leading their problems to go undetected.1 Women also tend to use drinking to self-medicated for emotional trauma, depression, and anxiety.1

Like there are many risks of being a male drinker, there are many risks of being a female drinker—if not more.1

[1] Scharff, C., & Taite, R. (2014, April 9). Alcohol Problems Women Should Consider . Psychology Today. Retrieved April 11, 2014, from http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/ending-addiction-good/201404/alcohol-problems-women-should-consider

One Comment

  • Nikki

    April 25, 2014, 10:43 am

    i am diabetic and 22 years old (I’ve had type 1 since i was 8) .i have a drink occasionally, but i don’t drink beer (loaded with carbs) i usually drink sugar free redbull and vodka .it has never had much of an effect on my blood sugar but then again i don’t let myself get drunk so i don’t lose control. i had a diabetic friend die at the age 17 due to the fact that she funneled way too many beers at a party and passed out and no one realized her blood sugar had shot up above 1000 and she flat lined and never came out of a coma. everything should be done in moderation.

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