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When the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous was first published in 1939, it was acknowledged that female alcoholics often have a harder path to recovery. Women often have to deal with more social stigma than men do.  And seventy-plus years later, this still holds true.  Even though women make up one-third of all people who are alcoholic or have alcohol problems, the majority don’t receive treatment because of the intense shame that is part of alcoholism in women. Many women are afraid to admit they need help because of the social stigma that is attached to alcoholism in women; they don’t want to be separated from their family; or they view their alcoholism as the outcome of another issue like anxiety or depression.

Alcoholism in women often develops along a different path than alcoholism in men. Alcoholism in woman 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.

Alcoholism in women often begins for different reasons than it does for men. Women are more likely to drink due to emotional issues like stress and anxiety. Women often face a different set of obstacles today than their predecessors. Whereas in the past, women were only expected to raise the children and take care of the home, women today are often expected to run the household and compete with men in the workplace.

Because their makeup and body chemistry is different, alcohol often affects women more strongly than it does men. Women are often smaller than men, and they don’t process alcohol as quickly. Thus, women can drink less and get a stronger effect. One drink has twice the effect on a women’s body as it does on a man’s. This is one reason that alcoholism in women progresses more quickly.

Another reason that alcoholism in women progresses more quickly is that women are more likely to combine drinking with prescription pill abuse. Women are more likely to ask for and receive prescriptions for narcotic medications, and they have more access to prescribers. This is why alcoholism in women is more likely to turn deadly.

Finally, alcoholism in women is more socially stigmatized than alcoholism in men. Women who have children are particularly prone to suffer as a result of this bias. Our society believes that women who suffering from alcoholism cannot be good mothers. This idea prompts many mothers to hide their alcoholism and discourages them from seeking treatment for alcoholism.  Also, professional women suffering from alcoholism encounter more stereotypes than do professional men. When a professional man drinks, society often adopts a “boys will be boys” attitude. Professional women do not encounter the same kind of acceptance. This causes many professional women to hide and lie about their drinking, which can lead to them developing alcoholism later on.

If you or someone you know needs drug or alcohol treatment, call us at (877) 711-HOPE (4673) or visit us online at

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