A woman’s body
Women’s bodies are more prone to the toxic effects of alcohol. This includes alcohol related liver disease, brain shrinkage and alcohol related brain damage. These can all occur after a lower consumption and with shorter drinking history for women compared to men.
A woman’s mind
Women drinkers experience more shame and low self-esteem compared to men. As a result women can be more reluctant to talk about their drinking. If they have children a female alcoholic may feel ashamed of being labelled as a bad parent.
Depression / anxiety
Alcoholic women have higher rates of depression and anxiety, and this is 4 times more common than in the normal population. Mostly this disorder of mood is directly linked to the drinking and resolves once the person has received help for the drinking problem.
Self -harm and suicide
Self – harm attempts are frequent among women with addictive disease. Most at risk are women in the 20 to 29 age group. Research has shown that over 50% of young alcoholic women attempt suicide.
Adult female alcoholics are more often victims of rape or assault and of physical abuse.
Link between alcoholism and eating disorders
Several studies also show elevated levels of eating disorders. Bulimics have a lot of shame and low self esteem, these feelings are often suppressed by alcohol initially but eventually the drinking only makes the shame worse. There are similarities between the two behaviours with a loss of control, craving conditioned response to external cues.
Alcoholics are more likely to abuse other drugs
There is of course the added complication that female alcoholics may also be abusing other drugs especially tranquiliser medications.
Rehab treatment for women with alcoholism
Residential rehab treatment is a suitable option for many women with alcoholism. This is because women with alcohol problems can often be living with an alcoholic partner; they are also more likely to be divorced or separated; and there is therefore often much less family support for a female alcoholic.