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Female Alcoholics Face Different Challenges Than Males

female alcoholics

Men and women handle alcoholism in different ways. Not only do men and women handle treatment differently and have different relapse triggers, but men’s and women’s bodies also metabolize alcohol differently, according to a recent article in the Miami Herald. Here we’ll take a look at some of the key ways alcohol uniquely impacts women.

The Depression Factor

Women are more likely to suffer from depression than men, and depression more often serves to exacerbate alcoholism and addiction in women. Depression may either be a root cause of alcoholism as women attempt to use alcohol to cope or self-medicate, or the depression may stem from alcohol abuse, since alcohol itself is a depressant.

One survey showed that the factors cited most often by women as reasons for alcohol addiction were depression, anxiety, and a critical internal voice, the article explained. It’s also more likely that exposure to trauma plays a role in a woman’s battle against alcoholism, the article noted.

How Alcohol is Metabolized

Women tend to weigh less and have a higher fat-to-muscle ratio than men, which leads to significant differences in the way alcohol is metabolized in a woman’s body, the article explained.  Alcohol distributes itself much more easily in fat and water than in muscle.

In addition, because of women’s fat-to-muscle ratio, their bodies produce less of a chemical called alcohol dehydrogenase, which breaks down alcohol into a less harmful chemical. This chemical is found more commonly in muscle than in fat or water. This means women metabolize alcohol more slowly than men and that alcohol is distributed in women’s bodies in larger quantities, placing women at a higher risk of experiencing the toxic effects of alcohol, the article noted.

The Critical Internal Voice

Female alcoholics going through treatment often point to a critical internal voice as a trigger that frequently leads to problem drinking. This negative inner voice resounds in a women’s mind with thoughts like:

  • You are a terrible wife and mother.
  • There’s no way someone like me could ever get sober.
  • You deserve to suffer for your failures.

While men deal with this negative inner monologue as well, women were simply more likely to point it out as a trigger. This negative inner voice also tends to make women self-conscious about going to treatment, as they fear that their work, family and friends might think less of them as an addict in recovery.

Group therapy is one effective means of addressing these triggers with other women going through a similar struggle. Addiction treatment at a recovery center that focuses exclusively on women, as well as ongoing counseling after treatment, can also be effective at helping women get to the root of triggers like this and overcome alcohol addiction.

About Residence XII

Residence XII offers drug and alcohol treatment that helps to empower women while leading them on their journey toward recovery. At Residence XII, we welcome all women (+18) and aim to provide the highest quality inpatient treatment  and outpatient treatment for addiction available. Residence XII also offers a family program aimed at helping family members and loved ones understand how to best help the patient in recovery. Contact us for a free drug and alcohol assessment or to learn more about how we treat women with drug or alcohol dependency. Residence XII is State Licensed by CARF (Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities) and a member of the NAATP (National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers).

(Photo by David Castillo Dominici via