Women and Alcohol

What are the Differences in the Effects of Alcohol on Men and Women?

Here are the Facts:

• A woman’s concentration of alcohol in the blood and the subsequent impairement is more severe than men after drinking equivalent amounts of alcohol.

• Women are more vulnerable than men to many of the adverse consequences of alcohol use.

• Medical research demonstrates that women are more susceptible than men to alcohol-related organ damage and also to traumas resulting from traffic accidents and interpersonal violence.

Surveys indicate that alcohol use is more prevalent among men than women in the U.S. Among drinkers surveyed, 10% of women and 22% of men consumed an average of two or more drinks per day.

Why then are women more vulnerable to the adverse consequences?

• Women absorb and metabolized alcohol differently than men, allowing the blood levels of alcohol to be higher for a longer period of time than they are in men.

• Because women have a lower level of water/pound of body weight, women achieve higher levels of alcohol in the blood stream after consuming comparable amounts of alcohol.

• Compared to men, women develop alcohol-caused liver disease and cirrhosis over a shorter period of time and after consuming less alcohol. (Studies indicate that estrogen increases the risk of liver damage.)

• A woman can consume 60% less alcohol over her life time than a man and still demonstrate the same alcohol-associated heart muscle disease.

• Women metabolize alcohol more slowly than men, leaving their tissues and organs exposed to higher levels of alcohol for longer periods of time.

The consequences of heavy alcohol consumption is extremely damaging to the body and since alcohol affects women more severely than men, they are more likely to demonstrate the severe effects of chronic alcohol abuse.

The liver is the main organ responsible for breaking down alcohol into harmless metabolites so that the body can function as normal as possible. Extended drinking fatigues the liver and causes cirrhosis, which harms the brain, causing a serious and potentially fatal brain disorder known as hepatic encephalopathy. This disease causes sleep disorders, mood and personality problems; anxiety and depression; severe cognitive effects such as shortened attention span; and problems with coordination, and, ultimately, causes a person to slip into a coma and death.

Drinking during pregnancy can lead to a wide range of physical, learning and behavioral effects in the developing brain, the most serious of which is a collection of symptoms known as fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS). Children with FAS may have distinct facial features and are markedly smaller than average. Their brains may have less volume, accounting for fewer brain cells and abnormally developed brains, leading to long-term problems in learning and behavior. For information on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders see…Click HERE…

This evidence demonstrates how the risk are heighten for women who choose to drink, however, some women should not drink at all:

• Anyone under the legal drinking age of 21 (this is naturally for men as well)

• People of any age who are unable to restrict their drinking to a moderate level (again, applies to men as well)

• Women who may become pregnant or who are pregnant

• Women who plan to drive, operate machinery,, or take part in other activities that require attention, skill or coordination (applies to everyone)

• Women taking prescription or over-the-counter medication that can interact with alcohol(again, applies to everyone)

In short, women should be more careful about alcohol consumption than men because:

Women are at greater risk than men for developing alcohol-related problems

Alcohol passes through the digestive tract and is dispersed in the water of the body, which dilutes the concentration of alcohol and its effects on the body. As a rule, men weigh more than women and, pound for pound, women have less water in their bodies than men. Therefore, a woman’s brain and other organ are exposed to more alcohol and to more of the toxic byproducts that result from the metabolism of alcohol, which cause more severe and rapid damage to their bodies than seen in men.

Women need to recognize these differences and behave accordingly. this needs to become a point of pride in women, rather than a feeling that it is another area where they are’s as equal as it should be.

This data should be used to help intervene on alcoholic women to help them understand that addiction treatment is essential to arrest further physical and emotion damage. It is obvious that time is not a friend to women that are abusing alcohol. This statement isn’t meant to make you feel worse about your condition, but to help motivate you to call us and find out what can be done to change the conditions in your life so that you no longer need alcohol to confront your world.

DISCLAIMER: None of the information contained here should be considered medical advice. Alcohol and other drug detoxification should be done under medical and/or professional supervision. At the first sign of alcohol or drug withdrawal sysmpoms or discomfort, immediately seek medical advice. Do not attempt to detox from alcohol or other drugs without proper medical supervision. If you feel that you have a medical emergency, call 911 and seek local advice.

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