Alcoholism can be very detrimental to women and men’s health, but did you know that it develops differently in both genders? Just as boys and girls may have different methods for learning, men and women respond to addiction in different ways. This information has a big impact on the way we treat alcoholism to give everyone the best chance at recovery.
Women and Alcoholism
Studies show that the mental and physical effects of alcoholism can be more severe in women. Many girls report that alcohol was a part of their first sexual experience, which in some cases include sexual abuse. Researchers have also found information that links mental, physical, and sexual abuse to alcoholism in women. Statistically, women are more likely to be victims of abuse, which sometimes leads to addiction. Furthermore, women with anxiety and depression are more likely than men to self-medicate with alcohol, which can rapidly lead to addiction and a dual diagnosis.
Development of alcoholism
Women’s bodies absorb and metabolize alcohol different then men. Women can feel the impact of drinking more quickly and more intensely than a man who drinks the same amount. Both men and women show similar physical effects of alcoholism, such as brain shrinkage or pancreatitis, but women consistently exhibit the symptoms in a shorter period of time.
Genetics and hormones may also have an effect on a woman’s alcoholism. If a woman has a family history of alcoholism, she may be more likely to become addicted to alcohol herself. Science also suggests that hormones and brain chemistry may play a role in female cravings for alcohol. Women indicate stress as a trigger for cravings, whereas men are more likely to report visual cues as a trigger. Alcohol becomes a release that brings feelings of calm and relaxation to women. In contrast, men tend to report feeling more aggressive and powerful through alcohol.
Gender-specific barriers to treatment
Culturally, women are viewed as the nurturers of the family. Even though modern parenting means that we have more stay-at-home dads than before, the stereotype of women in the home continues to prevail. This means that there is an added stigma for women and alcoholism – i.e., it’s okay for a man to have a few drinks, but less so for a woman. Because of this stigma, women may be less likely to seek treatment as the entire family remains in denial of her alcoholism.
If you or a woman you love is having problems with drug abuse, alcohol dependency or mental illness, women’s drug rehab may be the answer. Remember that recovery from addiction and alcohol abuse treatment means learning how to cope with intensely emotional situations, and identifying when you need help and support. Treatment for addiction relapse, counseling, and aftercare can help you do this, so please call us today. Destination Hope: The Women’s Program is a full service addiction and women’s health treatment facility in Florida for women who suffer from substance abuse and behavioral health issues.