Alcoholism is an increasing problem for women. US CDC reveals 17% of women aged 18 to 25 years and 9% of overall ages had an alcohol use disorder in 2019. Men are more likely to drink excessive amounts of alcohol. However, women are at a greater risk of severe side effects related to alcohol use than men.
Fortunately, there are rehab centers and support services that understand women addicts’ unique challenges and are dedicated to helping them overcome their addictions. This page discusses alcohol use disorder in women and the benefits of women-only programs and a women’s rehab program. Learn more about our addiction treatment center at New Directions for Women.
Are Women More Prone to Alcohol Use Disorder than Men?
Women are generally more susceptible to alcoholism than men based on their body composition. Studies show that after taking the same quantities of alcohol, women feel the effects faster, and the alcohol lasts longer in the system than men. This is due to a difference in body structure and chemistry, resulting in longer alcohol metabolism rates in women.
The following are some of the specific studies that underscore the serious side effects associated with alcohol in women:
- Women’s bodies tend to absorb alcohol faster than that men’s. This implies women will feel the effects of alcohol more quickly, which also tends to last longer than men.
- Women with alcohol use disorder have 50 to 100 times higher death rates than men.
- Women abusing alcohol have a greater risk for chronic health problems like cancer.
- Because women tend to weigh less than men, alcohol remains in body water for longer than men.
Dangers of Alcohol Abuse
Alcohol abuse can influence the reproductive system, heart, liver, brain, and pregnancy and increase women’s risk of certain cancers. The following are some of the physical and mental health dangers of alcohol abuse:
- Brain function abnormalities: Women who abuse alcohol are at more risk of faster shrinking brain tissue, brain damage, and declining brain function than men. Compared to male teens who binge drink, female teens are more likely to experience memory problems. Additionally, heavy drinking in female teens and women impacts parts of the brain related to decision-making and memory processing.
- Liver disease: Women are more prone to cirrhosis and other alcohol-related liver diseases than men, even when they don’t drink as much. This is because they absorb more alcohol relative to their body size than men.
- Heart problems: In women, heart disease, high blood pressure, and damage to the heart muscle occur faster than in men, even when they consume less alcohol. Long-term alcohol abuse may impact the heart muscle affecting its ability to pump blood.
- Infertility: Alcohol can decrease female fertility. Even light drinking can cause irregular menstrual cycles and ovulation patterns, reducing fertility and triggering early menopause.
- Pregnancy complications: Women who drink while pregnant are at a higher risk of having a newborn with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD). FASD is a permanent condition characterized by poor coordination, low body weight, hyperactive behavior, difficulty with attention, learning disabilities, poor memory, difficulty in school, and speech/ language delays. It can also raise the risk of congenital disabilities, miscarriage, stillbirth, and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
- Cancer: Alcohol causes several types of cancer, including breast cancer. Alcohol is also linked to mouth, throat, liver, colon, and esophagus cancers.
- Mental health disorders: Women who drink are more likely to develop mental health disorders like depression and anxiety.
Various Treatment Options for Women Looking for Recovery
The following are some of the common treatments for alcohol use disorder:
- Detox and withdrawal: Treatment can begin with a medically managed detoxification program. Detox usually takes between 2 and 7 days, and patients may require sedating medications to tackle adverse withdrawal symptoms. The treatment is usually done at a hospital or inpatient treatment center.
- Psychological counseling: Counseling and therapy for individuals help the patient understand their problem with alcohol. The counseling is designed to support recovery from a psychological aspect. It may include individual, group, and family therapy.
- Oral medications: An oral drug such as disulfiram can help patients control their rate of alcohol consumption. If a patient takes alcohol while under treatment, the drug produces physical reactions such as vomiting, headaches, nausea, and flushing. However, remove the urge to neither drink nor cure the alcohol problem. Other oral drugs, such as naltrexone, block the good feelings alcohol causes and may reduce cravings to drink.
- Injected medication: Drugs such as Vivitrol can be injected once a month by a healthcare professional. The drug has the same effects as naltrexone.
- Residential treatment programs: Residential treatment facilities can be ideal for people with severe alcohol use disorder. Many residential treatment programs include activity therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy (individual therapy), group therapy, support groups, educational lectures, and more.
Benefits of Women-Only Treatment Centers
Women-only (WO) rehab programs provide the same types of evidence-based interventions available in mixed-gender rehab centers but with a focus on benefits women specifically.
The following are some of the benefits of women-only rehab centers:
Focus on unique issues women face: Women’s alcohol rehab facilities are specifically equipped to handle unique issues that many women face while in treatment. Society considers women as the center of the household and the emotional and physical caretakers of the family.
Women often feel guilt when entering addiction recovery treatment since they are forced to abandon their families. The programs available in women’s rehab centers help patients achieve peace of mind regarding their needs, family, and children. Some women’s programs and rehab centers may offer onsite childcare, housing help, parenting classes, and family/couples therapy.
Safety and security: A great benefit of women-only treatment services is that patients feel highly secure and safe. Women who come to treatment often carry substantial emotional baggage. Many women addicts are victims of domestic violence, sexual abuse, and sexual assault.
In programs where men are included, women feel insecure and may not open up about the root causes of their problems. On the other hand, women’s rehab facilities provide environments designed to make patients feel a sense of safety and security.
Multidisciplinary approach: Women’s substance abuse treatment centers adopt a multidisciplinary approach to treatment that addresses the unique needs of women in treatment. These may include individual and group counseling, therapies such as CBT and DBT, dual diagnosis treatment, and holistic treatment options.
Alcohol Rehab for Women in California
Women with substance use disorders have unique challenges requiring holistic treatments. The proper treatment should address root causes and set the patients on a solid path of recovery. Gender-specific treatment programs can help address challenges that are specific to women.
New Directions for Women offers alcohol addiction treatment to women of all ages. NDFW offers detox, residential, partial hospitalization, intensive outpatient, and sober living programs to women struggling with alcohol abuse. Contact us today to learn more about our addiction treatment program.