Understanding Alcohol Use Disorders and Alcohol Dependence in Women
Alcoholism, officially dubbed an alcohol substance use disorder or alcohol dependence, is a treatable mental and physical disease, which is the third cause of preventable death in America. Although men are more susceptible to alcohol use disorders, women account for 26,000 deaths annually from untreated alcohol use disorders. Without prompting, many never seek female alcoholism treatment, which can be more pointed in recovery efforts when compared to general alcoholism treatment. In gender specific treatment, like male alcoholism treatment, underlying societal stigmas surrounding alcohol are more readily addressed and appear in the forefront of alcohol addiction treatment, helping to prevent relapse in the future.
The stages of alcohol dependence are the same throughout alcohol use disorders for men and women, although women may succumb to alcohol use disorders more quickly than their male counterparts; as less alcohol has more of an impact on the female body, as opposed to men. Women often turn to alcohol as a means to relieve stress, and may be heavily influenced to drink if their significant other is prone to over-consumption of alcoholic beverages.
Women who exceed three drinks per day may be at risk for developing an alcohol use disorder. There are many adverse effects alcohol causes among men and women, but women are susceptible to more physical ailments in response to excessive alcohol consumption earlier on.
Side Effects of Alcohol on Women
Although many consider the disparity between the recommended alcohol allowances between men and women unfair, womens’ bodies process alcohol differently, and are disadvantaged at doing so when compared to men. The distinction between recommended consumption guidelines are based off of the absorption rates between men and women- and the ability to process ethanol (the inebriating and addictive substance of alcohol).
The following regions of the body are adversely affected by alcohol dependence:
Brain: Alcohol slows down the brain and causes many brain cells in the left hemisphere to die off, which controls our ability to use logic. Leaving substance use disorders untreated will result in memory loss, and create an inability to store new memories.
Breast Cancer: Although alcohol consumption is not a direct precursor to breast cancer, excessive drinking makes women more susceptible to developing the potentially fatal disease.
Stomach: Prompts increased risk of developing stomach cancer; also responsible for diarrhea and vomiting.
Liver: Liver cancer is common among untreated alcohol use disorders, and does not show symptoms until advanced stages of the disorder. Permanent damage done to the liver cannot be remediated with alcohol addiction treatment, which is why enrolling into rehabilitation early on is crucial.
Bowels: In addition to a predisposition for bowel cancer, alcoholism may cause irritable bowel syndrome.
Heart Heart failure may result from long term unrestricted drinking; conversely, occasional drinking binges can create complications for your heart.
Pancreas & Diabetes: Many with pancreas disorders develop diabetes, and women with untreated alcohol use disorders inflame the pancreas and develop pancreatitis, wherein the cells of the pancreas inflame and may die off from irreversible damage.
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Identifying Female Alcoholism Signs
The signs and symptoms of alcohol dependence s do not heavily deviate from males to females. Those who use alcohol as a means to cope with stressful situations are at risk for developing alcohol use disorders equally. Physical dependence does not necessarily need to establish itself for one to become psychologically dependent upon alcohol. Look for the following signs of female alcoholism:
- Exceeding more than three drinks daily
- Reliant on alcohol for relaxation, stress relief, and everyday functioning
- Absence to social events which do not have access to alcohol
- Excessive drinking despite working the next day, or other responsibilities
- Drinking in socially unacceptable circumstances (child rearing, DUI)
- Drinking to reduce anxiety or depression
- Attempts to stop drinking often result in failure
- Excessive sleeping after drinking
- Drinking early in the morning
- Hiding rates of alcohol consumption
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms once consumption of alcohol ceases
Alcoholism: Women’s Health & Pregnancy Complications
Women have particular complications when dealing with alcohol use disorders and pregnancy. In fact, over consumption of alcohol may affect one’s ability to become pregnant. Drinking can lead to infertility for both men and women- but drinking specifically makes women less fertile. Ovulation may be adversely affected or stop entirely without alcohol addiction treatment.
Drinking may cause early menopause in women. In fact, women who drink excessively tend to age faster, and this reflects in their physical and aesthetic appearance.
Women who are attempting to conceive should avoid drinking alcohol at all. As the delicate reproductive hormones which control fertility are directly impacted by alcohol. Miscarriage is often common among women who drink. Additionally, if one drinks while pregnant, neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) should be expected; infants with NAS will experience withdrawal symptoms. Infants may develop life altering conditions as a result of exposure to alcohol in the womb.
Choosing the Best Women’s Alcohol Addiction Treatment
Gender specific alcohol addiction treatment may have a more pointed effect on those suffering from alcohol use disorders. Selecting a female alcohol addiction rehab center is important to guarantee the best treatment available. Harbor Village provides personalized treatment programs which are entirely catered to individual clients. Opting in for the full spectrum of alcohol addiction treatment, women with alcohol use disorders enjoy comfortable alcohol detox, residential inpatient treatment, and exceptional outpatient rehabilitation.