Alcohol affects women faster than men
While both genders suffer equally from the devastation alcoholism brings, women often abuse alcohol for different reasons, metabolize alcohol differently, and suffer unique health consequences. Metabolic differences may also explain why women who drink heavily tend to become addicted to alcohol more quickly than men do. Studies show that estrogen may be implicated too.
- For women, heavy alcohol use has been found to significantly contribute to the development of osteoporosis, breast cancer, reproductive problems, heart disease and stroke and alcohol-induced brain damage. These health problems are further complicated if you smoke or use other substances, and if you are exposed to environmental toxins.
- Women experience a more rapid progression to addiction or dependence on alcohol than men, described by researchers as a ‘telescoped course’.
- Women are more likely than men to develop cirrhosis of the liver after a shorter period of time and with less alcohol, and as a result, are also more likely to die from cirrhosis.
- Women are at a greater risk of experiences of violence such as sexual assault when drinking heavily.
- Heavy drinking has particular risks for women who are pregnant or are planning to become pregnant.
There is no easy test to diagnose Alcoholism.
It’s an insidious, fatal disease which ultimately must be diagnosed by the sufferer. What a quandary, the person whose mind is affected by the alcohol has to identify that the one thing they love the most on the Earth is killing them.
Others can help, the people around the sufferer can present valid non-emotional facts to help the person see the effect alcohol has upon their lives. The family and friends of the alcoholic have to protect themselves from the effects the alcoholic’s behaviors have upon their own lives. Losing these people and their support becomes evidence the alcoholic cannot miss.
Addiction experts and counselors can help, they pose probing questions which will lead the alcoholic to be able to see through the haze to honest answers.
Regrettably, most women never get the treatment they need. Of the roughly 7 million females who abuse alcohol, only 763,000 receive treatment. That leaves some 6.2 million women without that benefit. Although alcoholic men are likewise under-treated, seeking help is often more difficult, in part because the stigma of alcoholism is so profound.
How can you tell if you’re dependant upon alcohol?
Some warning signs are:
- Craving alcohol
- Loss of control, or being unable to stop once drinking has begun
- Physical withdrawal symptoms, such as shaking or sweating, when alcohol is discontinued after a period of heavy drinking
- Tolerance, or the need for increased amounts of alcohol to feel the same effects
- Neglecting family, social, recreational or work-related activities due to drinking
- Persistent use of alcohol, in spite of concerns of friends and family, or awareness that physical or psychological problems are related to drinking
If you or a loved one is suffering with alcohol dependence or abuse it’s imperative to get help asap! Below is a list of support available:
Alcoholics Anonymous is one of the oldest and most successful self-help groups for recovering alcoholics. Women make up about 35 percent of the total membership: www.aa.org or 212-870-3400.
Women for Sobriety is the first national self-help program for women alcoholics. For additional information and meeting locations, visit www.womenforsobriety.org or call 215-536-8026. Members also have access to chat rooms and message boards.
Al-Anon is a 12-step program for friends and relatives of those with an alcohol problem. There’s also a group for teens called Alateen: www.al-anon.alateen.org or 888-4AL-ANON.
Recovery Resources Online is a stand-alone information clearinghouse that operates with support of sponsors and affiliates and includes a directory with hundreds of treatment centers nationwide. Visit www.soberrecovery.com.