Contact Us P: 949-371-4198

Women and Alcohol: Facing Different Challenges than Men


While drinking can be harmful to both men and women, how alcohol affects a woman is not the same as how it affects a man. In general, men tend to drink more heavily than women, but this is not always true, and it takes less alcohol for a woman to start experiencing negative effects. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “National surveys show that about 1 in 2 women of child-bearing age (i.e., aged 18-44 years) use alcohol, and 15 % of women who drink alcohol in this age group binge drink.” Excessive drinking can lead to a host of health problems specific to women:

  • Fertility: Heavy drinking can interfere with a women’s menstrual cycle and in turn affect fertility and increase risk of pregnancy complications. Women who drink while pregnant run the risk of their baby developing fetal alcohol syndrome.
  • Elevated Alcohol Level: Women’s bodies naturally have less water than men’s, so when drinking the same amount of alcohol, a women’s blood alcohol concentration will be higher. In addition, weight, body chemistry, and hormones also affect how alcohol is absorbed and processed.
  • Cancer Risk: The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) notes that a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer increases by 10 percent if she has one drink every day compared to women who do not drink at all. This risk continues to rise by 10 percent for each additional drink per day.
  • Liver Disease: Although alcohol affects liver health for both men and women, women tend to be at higher risk for developing inflammation and cirrhosis.
  • Heart Disease: Women are also more susceptible to heart disease than men as a result of excessive drinking.

There are also some studies that show women’s brains are impacted differently as well. They may be at greater risk for memory loss and it could develop more quickly than in men. The multitude of potentially damaging effects from heavy drinking should not be overlooked.

Seeking Help

There are a wide range of reasons why women may turn to drinking. Over the years it has become more socially acceptable for women to drink and, while they typically do not consume as much as men, there are those who do drink in excess and mirror their male companions’ drinking patterns. Heavy drinking can not only lead to health problems but also impaired judgment and coordination as well as risky behavior.

Alcoholism is a manageable condition, however. There are many alcohol rehab centers available to provide professional treatment and support as women embark on recovery. After detoxing their body from the alcohol, they engage in therapy, nutrition counseling, support groups, and other activities to start making positive changes in their life. This can help them to overcome challenges that may have previously led to drinking.

Chapters Capistrano, located in San Clemente, California, offers on-site detox, flexible approaches to care, and highly trained staff to help women (and men) struggling with addiction problems. Before alcoholism takes a serious toll on your health and life, contact Chapters Capistrano at 949-371-4198 to focus on your recovery. Start a new chapter in your life and embrace a substance-free lifestyle today.