More than 100,000 U.S. deaths are caused by excessive alcohol consumption each year. There are currently over 5 million alcohol-dependent women in the United States alone—and the issue is only increasing. Chronic alcohol abuse takes a heavier toll on women than on men. Women get more impaired than men do after drinking the same amount of alcohol, even when differences in weight are taken into account. This means women are at greater risk than men for serious medical consequences of alcohol use, such as liver, brain, heart damage and cancer.
Alcohol abuse can be defined as, “drinking despite alcohol-related physical, social, psychological, or occupational problems,” or drinking in dangerous situations, such as while driving. There are many factors that can contribute to alcohol abuse in women such as stress, nervousness, insecurity, and self doubt. Many women use alcohol as a crutch, or a way to self medicate and forget about tough emotional problems. But dependency on alcohol is not the answer to life’s complications.
Answering the following questions can help you find out if you or a loved one has a drinking problem:
- Have you ever felt you should cut down on your drinking?
- Have people annoyed you by criticizing your drinking?
- Have you ever felt bad or guilty about your drinking?
- Have you ever had a drink first thing in the morning to steady your nerves or to get rid or a hangover?
Here are a few key warning signs that recognized early, can help prevent major problems later on.
- Neglecting other activities, such as social, professional, or recreational, due to drinking.
- Impaired control—Ongoing, unsuccessful efforts to cut down or control alcohol consumption.
- High tolerance, or the need to drink more to feel the effects of alcohol
- Excessive amounts of time and effort spent on making sure alcohol is readily available.
Drinking should not be taken lightly—it is a serious issue that can greatly alter your quality of life and even lead to death. New Directions for Women can help you are a loved one overcome alcohol dependency and get your life back on track.