“I didn’t get drunk, but I liked how the wine took the edge off my day … if the alcohol failed to take away the sadness, it made the feeling blurrier,” said Helen, the principal protagonist of the novel Under the Influence, written by best-selling author Joyce Maynard’s.
It is a fact that women tap into their emotions more than men and often fall prey to various vices to stifle their ongoing emotional turmoil. Today, alcohol abuse is no more a “man’s” problem as record numbers of women are picking up the bottle, thereby narrowing the gender gap. Women drink due to many reasons, ranging from enhancing social acceptability to using it as the means to cope with stress, or having fun on a spring break.
As per a 2015 report by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), 60 percent of the American women have at least one drink a year, while 13 percent of those who drink have more than seven drinks per week.
As alcoholism continues to be a burgeoning problem in the United States, the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) has been observing April as the Alcohol Awareness Month since 1987. The purpose, according to the NCADD, is “to help reduce the stigma so often associated with alcoholism by encouraging communities to reach out to the American public each April with information about alcohol, alcoholism and recovery.”
In recent times, there has been a significant shift in the drinking landscape among men and women. Surprisingly, a lot of women today are drinking in more harmful ways than men owing to various social, cultural and economic factors that advocate drinking habit in women. Of late, clever marketing has also brought about a sea change in the way women have taken to drink. Marketing ploys like making women’s drinks sweeter and more colorful have resulted in more of them indulging in binge drinking.
According to NIAAA director George Koob, “The evidence of increasing alcohol use by females is particularly concerning given that women are at greater risk than men of a variety of alcohol-related health effects, including liver inflammation, cardiovascular disease, neurotoxicity and cancer.”
Alcohol abuse increases risks of breast cancer and cirrhosis in women. This is because they have a different physiology as compared to men, along with smaller liver and lighter body mass, which makes the disposal of toxins difficult. Other health disorders that could arise because of chronic alcohol abuse are:
“A woman’s brain and other organs are exposed to more alcohol and to more of the toxic byproducts that result when the body breaks down and eliminates alcohol,” observed the NIAAA.
Considering the severity of the substance abuse problem, changes were made in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders in 2013, under which “abuse” and “dependence” are not presented as separate categories, but are grouped under the combined category of “spectrum of substance abuse disorders.”
Studies have shown that women with alcohol use disorder (AUD) can achieve significant benefit from cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which offers a hands-on practical approach to problem solving and prevents alcohol abuse from spiraling down to an addiction.
While women are at par with men when it comes to alcohol use, it certainly does not portend well for them, as it causes both psychological and physiological damage. Detox and therapies, which are evidence-based and female-centric, can help women in reclaiming life.
While it is true that abstinence from alcohol often results in less social contact, benefits of abstinence often outweigh the shortfalls. If you or someone you know is battling an addiction to alcohol, it is time to get professional help.
Contact the 24/7 Recovery Helpline to find the best alcohol abuse treatment centers in the U.S. Call us at our 24/7 helpline number 855-441-4405 or chat online to know about various treatment centers for alcohol addiction available in your vicinity.