Alcoholism and Women’s Health
Alcoholism in women often develops along a different path than alcoholism in men. Alcoholism in women often begins for different reasons, progresses more quickly, and goes untreated for a longer period of time. Alcoholism in women is also twice as likely to result in overdose or death.
While alcohol abuse and alcoholism is more common in men, it seems that alcohol affects women more strongly. Alcoholism and women’s health is a major public concern. More women, especially professional women, are turning to alcohol to cope with stress, and the health consequences can be devastating.
Alcoholism and Women’s Health: Brain Damage
Several studies have shown that alcohol abuse can take a greater toll on women’s health, particularly when it comes to brain damage. When the serotonin system in the brain becomes damaged, it can affect impulse control and mood as well as memory and learning abilities. Both men and women can experience adverse serotonin effects from drinking too much, but in women, it happens much faster. It takes about 12 years for alcoholic males to lose 50 percent of their serotonin system function. Women lose 50 percent in only four years. The serotonin system controls the regulation of mood, appetite, and sleep.
Alcoholism and Women’s Health: Hangovers
Women not only get drunk on alcohol more quickly than men, but they often suffer worse hangovers. This is another reason that alcoholism and women’s health can be a very bad combination. Women tend to weigh less and have less body water than men, so they become intoxicated much more easily than men. This also means that their hangovers tend to be more severe and last longer.
Alcoholism and Women’s Health: Heart Risk
The chronic use of alcohol can impact the heart, resulting in hypertension, cardiomyopathy, arrhythmia, and stroke. Women tend to be more susceptible to the toxic effects of alcohol on the heart. Research shows that women experience more severe cardiovascular effects as a result of alcohol and these effects are noted at an earlier stage of drinking and at a lower consumption level than those noted in men.
Alcoholism and Women’s Health: Risky Sexual Behavior
Alcohol is linked to risky sexual behavior in everyone, but that behavior is particularly dangerous for women. Women are more likely to engage in risky sexual behavior, including anal sex, sex with multiple partners, and sex without the use of contraceptives than male drinkers. Women are also much more likely to contract a sexually transmitted disease as a result of risky sexual behavior while drinking. In fact, men are eight to ten times more likely to transmit HIV to a female partner through sexual intercourse than women are to transmit it to men.
Alcoholism and women’s health is an issue that only recently has been explored. For many years, alcoholism was observed mostly in men, and research efforts were directed mostly towards male drinkers. However, in recent years, women are closing the gap, and more women are seeking treatment for alcoholism than ever before.
If your loved one is in need of alcohol detox or treatment for alcoholism please give us a call at 800-951-6135.