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Excessive alcohol, the symptoms of alcohol dependence use and risks it poses to women

Armen Hareyan's picture
A group of women drinking alcohol

Alcohol dependence is one of the most severe types of drinking problems. But to acknowledge the problem women need to know the symptoms of alcohol dependence and risks it poses to their health. A few years ago, alcoholism was considered an issue that affects only men, but the things have changed, and more and more women are diagnosed as suffering from this condition.


The spike of alcohol use is not only in the number of women who are using alcohol, but also in the volume of the alcohol, they consume. And it’s not wrong to say that many women can drink a man under the table. But what many people don’t know is that alcohol affects women differently than men.

Here are the main risks alcohol poses to women and how to determine if you have an addiction. Cynthia Madison from The Good Life Book sent us this story discussing the problem of women's excessive alcohol consumption and the symptoms of alcohol dependence.

Why do women drink?

Do women have different reasons to drink than men? The fact is that women drink for the same reasons men do it, to relieve stress, to get to sleep, to gain confidence in social gatherings, and to relax. Here are some other reasons why women have more than a glass of wine.

- Women who experienced sexual abuse are more likely to also use alcohol in an excessive way
- Separated, divorced or unmarried women are more prone to have a drinking problem
- If a woman has problems with someone she loves she can turn to alcohol to forget about it
- Women whose partners have alcohol addiction are more likely to experience the same problem
- Women may simply start to drink more than before. Studies show that 20% of ninth grade girls state that they had more than four drinks in the last month. The rate is higher than the one of boys of the same age.

What are the symptoms of alcohol dependence?

Sometimes women find difficult to understand if they are experiencing a drinking problem. Here are the main symptoms and behaviors:

- They are experiencing personality and mood changes
- They are hiding bottles and glasses from their partner or friends
- They are driving after they drink
- They are having blackouts
- They no longer care about their personal appearance
- They are not interested in eating
- Their drinking habits cause financial and work problems
- They are drinking alone
- They have long episodes of intoxication

Large volumes of alcohol can have a toxic effect on a woman’s body, and very often, it causes physical symptoms like:

- Frequent injuries because of falls
- Tingling, weakness, and numbness in the legs and arms
- Diarrhoea and abdominal pain after consuming alcohol
- Malnutrition signs because of a poor diet
- Shaking and morning nausea

If you experience these symptoms, and you think that your misuse of alcohol can be the cause, you should ask yourself a simple question, how many times in the last year have you had more than 4 drinks in a week? You probably have a problem if you have more than 7 drinks in a week and more than 3 drinks in a day.

How does alcohol affect women?

Alcohol can increase the risk of breast cancer

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Numerous studies show that there’s a connection between alcohol use and cancer. The World Health Organisation concluded in a 2014 report that more than one in five alcohol-related deaths are due to cancer. Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer among women, and it’s advisable they to know that consuming alcohol can boost their risk to experience it.

Alcohol excess not only that increases the risk of breast cancer, but it’s considered one of the main causes of other types of cancer like laryngeal cancer, oesophageal cancer, mouth, bowel, and liver cancer.

Alcohol can cause fertility issues

Drinking alcohol can disrupt the menstrual cycle patterns, and multiple studies showed that drinking regularly could reduce the chances of getting pregnant. Doctors recommend the women who are trying to conceive, or who are already pregnant to stop drinking alcohol. It’s the best way to protect the baby from possible health problems. Help4addiction.co.uk recommends pregnant women to contact a rehab expert if they have difficulties to give up drinking.

Alcohol consumption doesn’t affect only women but also men. The men who are consuming excessive amounts of alcohol have lesser chances to conceive than the men who are having a balanced life.

Alcohol can have a negative influence on the appearance

Alcohol can affect a woman’s appearance in countless ways, it can cause weight gain, spots on her skin, and it makes her eyes look tired.

Alcohol has a disruptive effect on the normal sleep process and it makes her feel and look as if she hasn’t had the rest she needed. Alcohol has a negative effect on the body because it dehydrates the body. Consumed in excess, it deprives the skin from vital nutrients and vitamins.

Two glasses of wine contain the same number of calories as a burger so it’s no surprise that the women who are drinking alcohol have weight problems. Alcohol also cuts down the amount of fat the body burns to generate energy. The human body is not able to store alcohol and it tries to remove it as quickly as possible. It’s a priority for the body to get rid of it, and it does it before burning fat or absorbing nutrients. This process has no positive effects on the body.

Alcohol is closely linked with aging

It’s no secret that as we age, we gain fat and lose muscle. But this is not the only drawback aging brings, we also have difficulties in breaking down alcohol. This means that people and particularly women are more sensitive to its effects. For example if two women of different ages drink the same amount of alcohol, the older one will experience the effects more pronounced than the others.

Changing hormones affect women in menopause. But alcohol can trigger some menopause symptoms, like night sweats and hot flushes. Menopause can make women gain weight and experience insomnia, and combined with excessive alcohol consumption, it can make the symptoms worse.

The best way to avoid all the above problems is to keep your drinking habits in control and to address the problem as soon as you determine that you drink too much.

Armen Hareyan is the editor of eMaxHealth.com. You can follow eMaxHealth on Twitter, Facebook and on Youtube. Please, subscribe to our channels for daily health tips and share with friends if you find them informative.