From a historical standpoint, women have generally drunk less alcohol than men. However, there has been a worrying convergence in recent years, with some women beginning to outpace men in their alcohol consumption. Consequently, alcoholism is now a greater risk among women than it has ever been before.
Women Process Alcohol Slower
Medical professionals recommend that women consume 25-33% less alcohol than men. The simple reason is that the average female cannot process alcohol as effectively as the average male. There are three key factors to consider:
- Women generally weigh less than men and have less tissue with which to absorb alcohol.
- A higher ratio of fat in women means that they are less effective at diluting alcohol.
- Alcohol is metabolized slower by women because they have lower levels of alcohol dehydrogenase (DHD) in their livers.
Health Risks of Female Alcoholism
The Million Women Study undertaken by Cancer Research UK has revealed a number of invaluable conclusions about the female health risks of persisting with heavy drinking habits over a long-term period. Women in the study were assessed in their consumption of low to moderate alcohol quantities.
Overall, the core finding was that cancer risks increased by 6% for every extra daily drink of alcohol. That equated to the diagnosis of 15 extra cancers in an average group of 1,000 women. Breast cancer is the most concerning of alcohol-related cancers, with all women increasing their risk by 12% per daily drink, and that’s without taking smoking into consideration.
Cirrhosis is another important concern for women who drink heavily. However, the Million Women Study was keen to point out that women who also smoke are at a much greater risk than those who do one or the other. Therefore, the combination of alcohol and smoking should definitely be avoided among women.
Additional Health Risks of Concern
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIH) is another vital voice in raising the awareness for women suffering from their drinking, and for their families. In the past, the NIH has pointed out that women can encounter major risks when drinking at lower levels than men. Women have less water in their bodies than men, giving them a higher alcohol concentration when they drink.
In addition to breast cancer and cirrhosis, women who drink heavily are at great risk of alcohol-induced heart disease than men who also drink heavily. Fertility is another concern among women, with alcohol making it tougher for them to become pregnant. And when pregnant, drinking can lead to facial deformations and brain damage for unborn children.
Helping Women with Alcoholism
Although not an ultra famous name in Hollywood, Elizabeth Peña attained relative fame for her roles in Rush Hour and on Modern Family, a TV show on which she was still working. Back in October 2014, it was shocking for some to learn that Peña had died of liver cirrhosis after what was described to be a “brief battle”. The medical diagnosis explained that the cirrhosis-related death was due to alcohol consumption.
The sad truth about Elizabeth Peña is that few people close to her saw it coming. To be honest, few people manage to see or perhaps acknowledge the signs of alcoholism in women, but that has to change. This is not a disease exclusively reserved for men, which is why we all need to do more to look after the women in our lives.
Women’s alcohol rehab contains just a few clear steps when attending a treatment center that puts the needs of its patients first. Ten-step programs have more complexities to them, which mean that the success rate of overcoming alcohol addiction is dramatically lower than with dedicated treatment centers.
To provide clarity, we will quickly run through the treatment center approach to women’s alcohol rehab:
- Detoxification – Trained professionals oversee the withdrawal of alcohol from the body.
- Counseling – Individual counseling sessions to understand the mental factors driving addiction.
- Group sessions – Counseling sessions in a group environment with other addicts to share experiences.
- Outpatient care – Long-term support after leaving the facility to ensure long-term sobriety is maintained.