The Health Effects of Alcoholism and Women

Alcohol abuse and addiction produces a wide range of health consequences in men and women alike, but studies show that women who abuse alcohol — or even occasionally drink in excess — face more serious health risks than males. Women not only become addicted to alcohol faster than men, but they also develop serious illnesses related to their alcohol abuse much more quickly than their male counterparts. These serious illnesses include heart disease, liver disease, reproductive problems, osteoporosis, ulcers, pancreatic, memory loss, and more.

Alcoholism and Women: Why Women Drink

Women and men drink for many of the same reasons: to relax, to relieve stress, to fall asleep, and to gain confidence in social situations. In addition to these reasons, women have a variety of risk factors that lead them to abuse alcohol. Women are more likely to become problem drinkers if they:

* Have a history of sexual abuse.
* Are having problems with a loved one.
* Are unmarried, divorced or separated
* Have a husband or partner with an alcohol problem.

Alcoholism and Women: The Health Effects

Consuming too much alcohol has risks for both men and women. Women who are problem drinkers face additional risks that include:

* Liver Disease
The effects of alcohol on the liver are much more severe for women than for men. In fact, more alcoholic women die from cirrhosis than alcoholic men. Alcohol-induced liver diseases such as cirrhosis and hepatitis also develop more quickly in women.

* Reproductive Problems
Heavy drinking has been associated with menstrual disorders, which can lead to fertility problems. Women who drink alcohol during pregnancy also put their unborn baby at risk for a variety of health consequences, including Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, birth defects and miscarriage.

* Cancer Risks
Women who consume alcohol are more at risk for developing cancer than men who consume alcohol. The most common forms of cancer seen in alcoholic women are liver and breast cancer. According to a study by the <i>Journal of the American Medical Association</i>, women who drink two to five alcoholic drinks a day are 41 percent more likely to develop breast cancer than nondrinkers. Excessive alcohol consumption has also been shown to increase the risk of several digestive-tract cancers in women.

* Brain Damage
Most alcoholics have some loss of mental function, changes in the function of brain cells, and reduced brain size due to their alcohol abuse. MRI images suggest that women are more vulnerable to this alcohol-induced brain damage than men.

* Victimization
Women who consume alcohol increase their risk of sexual and violent victimization. Studies show that female college students report a significant increase in sexual victimization that’s directly related to the amount of alcohol they consume each week, and female high school students are more likely to be victims of date rape and violence than non-drinking female students.

* Other Health Problems
According to the Centers for Disease Control, women in the late stages of alcoholism develop hypertension, anemia and malnutrition much more quicker than alcoholic men. They are also at risk for developing depression, sleeping problems, and are more at risk for personal injury. These risks are especially prevalent in older women who consume alcohol.

Alcoholism and Women: Getting Help

Women who drink are much more likely to become dependent on or addicted to alcohol. Women face greater health risks have higher death rates due to suicide, accidents and other health-related issues. If you or someone you know has problem with drinking, get help today. An alcohol treatment program can help you safely detoxify your body of alcohol’s harmful toxins and teach you the skills necessary to live a life free of alcohol. Call an alcohol rehab and ask them which treatment program is right for you.


This blog is for informational purposes only and should not be a substitute for medical advice. We understand that everyone’s situation is unique, and this content is to provide an overall understanding of substance use disorders. These disorders are very complex, and this post does not take into account the unique circumstances for every individual. For specific questions about your health needs or that of a loved one, seek the help of a healthcare professional.