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Why Alcohol Affects Women Differently Than Men

Although there is evidence that a higher percentage of men abuse alcohol and other substances, women encounter greater dangers because alcohol affects them differently. Did you know that the human body averages around 60% water? Women weigh less and average less water in their bodies than men. Since alcohol resides in body water, this means that women get a higher concentration of alcohol in their blood a lot faster. As a rule, women start to develop problems at lower drinking levels than men. What may appear as a small difference physiologically results in far greater dangers to women.

Besides the physical problems, women who drink are suffering from mental illnesses at a higher rate than men. It is frequently observed that women who are recovering from alcoholism are also in recovery from depression or another mental illness. There are support groups and materials available for each illness. There is also help available from dual diagnosis or co-occurring programs (for people suffering from an addiction and a mental illness). There are unseen ways that alcohol affects women more than men.

Alcoholism is a family disease with far reaching consequences. Effects on the family can be devastating. It is usually the woman who struggles to keep the family together if there are children. If that woman is drinking her children may be at risk because she has passed out or has left them home alone. When a female alcoholic is arrested her children may be left unattended with no other family to care for them. This situation is terrible and heart-wrenching. But there is help and it begins with admitting that your life is unmanageable. When writing about re-establishing relationships with children, Bill W. (Alcoholics Anonymous, p. 134) said “In time, they will see that he is a new man and in their own way they will let him know it….From that point on, progress will be rapid. Marvelous results often follow such a reunion.” Seek support and find the courage you need to grow physically, mentally and spiritually from your recovery program.

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