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Alcoholism’s Effect on Women

Alcoholism can be a dangerous disease, for both men and women.  Consuming alcohol triggers the release of excess dopamine in the brain, which causes people to feel a great amount of pleasure.  Your brain is quite similar to a computer, and it stores information and remembers specific things that make it feel good.  The more frequently and higher amount of alcohol you drink, the more the brain craves.  Often described as alcohol cravings or obsessions, alcoholics usually submit to compulsive drinking habits because the cravings can be so intense.  It has been said cravings can be much worse for women due to the composition of their brain.

In general, there is a higher ratio of men alcoholics compared to women, but this does not mean alcohol affects women less.  In fact, women are much more vulnerable to the effects alcohol produces and more likely to use it to self-medicate for issues, such as depression and stress.  Women who abuse large amounts of alcohol are more likely to experience brain damage because alcohol destroys dendrites, which are present on the ends of neurons and serve the purpose of transmitting messages between neurons.  Therefore, when they are destroyed imperative information cannot be relayed, which results in loss of mental function and reduced brain size.  

Women who drink heavily can experience physical health problems including osteoporosis, infertility, premature menopause, and high blood pressure.  They even have an increased probability of developing breast cancer.  A woman who drinks an additional 10 milliliters of alcohol daily increases her risk by 10 percent over a lifetime.  The social effects of alcoholism are extremely significant, as well.  Alcohol is referred to as the number one rape drug on the market.  Women who consume more than they intended put themselves at enormous risk for rape and sexual assault.  Alcohol has been shown to be a factor in 3 out of 4 rapes and thousands of women who over-consume alcohol say they can’t recall if they consented or not.  

Women’s body and brains are built completely different than their male counterparts.  In general, women tend to weigh less, so the amount of water and fat in their body is also less.  Women have a lower amount of water ratio in their body to dilute alcohol and a higher amount of fat to absorb it, so it affects them more.  They also have lower levels of alcohol metabolizing enzymes, so more alcohol is absorbed in their bloodstream than men.  Not surprisingly, hormones can also play a part in the way a body breaks down alcohol in the body.  Alcohol can be quite dangerous, especially for women.  Many health and social problems can arise from overconsumption.  If you feel alcohol is causing problems in your life, there is help available to you.  

If you need help for addiction, Gardens Wellness Center can help. We offer medically assisted detox and we are equipped to treat dual diagnoses, including depression. Call us today at 844-828-1050 or email us at to learn more.