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Alcoholism is a chronic disease that has serious consequences, especially for women. This is because compared to men, women have a lower ability to metabolize and eliminate alcohol.

Alcoholism has traditionally been linked to men in the past, but studies show that the gap between men and women who drink excessively has narrowed. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), national surveys show that about half of all women ages 18 to 44 years use alcohol, and 15 percent of those who drink engage in binge drinking. Recent estimates show that about 14 million US women binge drink about three times within a month. This means that they have at least four drinks in one period, the average of which was found to be at six drinks.

Alcoholism is a chronic disease that involves dependency on alcoholic drinks. Symptoms include having strong cravings for alcohol, not being able to limit drinking, and continued use in spite of experiencing chronic physical, psychological, or relationship problems. Binge drinking is typical of alcoholism, and it often results in alcohol intoxication or drunkenness.

Why Women Drink

National surveys show that the rate of regular alcohol drinking has risen in the past decades, from 37 percent to 47 percent among white women, from 21 percent to 30 percent among blacks women and from 24 percent to 32 percent in Hispanic women. Furthermore, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) reports that the latest surveys show that more than five percent of women in the US have alcohol use disorders. More than 60 percent of women between the ages 21 and 34 say that they binge on alcohol. However, binge drinking is rampant not just among young women. According to the CDC, 10 percent of women between the ages of 45 and 64, and up to three percent of those older than 65 say they binge drink.

Studies show that women have a different drinking pattern compared to men. While men tend to drink excessively in social settings, many women get drunk alone, usually at home. Some surveys show that highly educated women who earn high incomes tend to consume more alcohol.

Some of the reasons women cite for their drinking include:

  • The most common reason for drinking in women is to relieve stress, whether it is from college work, taking care of young children, or a corporate job.
  • Some women drink before or during romantic dates to make them feel more relaxed and self-confident. Other women drink with their partners or husbands to relax, relieve stress from the day’s work and promote intimacy.
  • Some women believe that men are more attracted to women who could drink and beat them at drinking games.
  • Some believe that drinking gives them a sense of entitlement that makes them feel that they can do anything a man can do.
  • Some women binge drink with friends as a way to socialize, especially after a stressful day.

Although alcohol has become a favorite medicine or form of escape to some women, experts warn that the dangerous effects of alcoholism in women have dramatically risen in recent years. Traffic reports show that there has been an increase in emergency room visits due to accidents related to alcohol drinking, as well as drunken driving arrests among women. Worst of all, is that studies reveal that there are numerous serious long-term health effects of excessive alcohol intake in women.

Continue reading after recommendations

  • NIAAA. Women and Alcohol. http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/womensfact/womensfact.htm
  • Women’s Health. Women and Alcohol. http://www.womenshealthmag.com/health/women-and-alcohol
  • HuffingtonPost. 7 Things You Need To Know About Women And Alcohol. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/03/women-alcohol-facts_n_3831152.html
  • ABCNews. New Women Alcoholics: 'Looking at Red Wine Like It's Chocolate'. http://abcnews.go.com/Health/women-alcoholics-red-wine-chocolate/story?id=20639212
  • CDC. Binge Drinking. http://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/BingeDrinkingfemale/#Introduction
  • CDC. Fact Sheets - Excessive Alcohol Use and Risks to Women's Health. http://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/fact-sheets/womens-health.htm
  • CDC. Alcohol and Public Health FAQs. http://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/faqs.htmPhoto courtesy of Cia de Foto via Flickr: www.flickr.com/photos/ciadefoto/3235227600
  • Photo courtesy of timquijano via Flickr: www.flickr.com/photos/timquijano/5335404178
  • niaaa.nih.gov
  • www.womenshealthmag.com
  • www.huffingtonpost.com
  • abcnews.go.com
  • www.cdc.gov

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