Women and Alcoholism
Women and Alcoholism
Alcoholic women face many conflicts in personal relationships, careers, identity roles and health issues. Underlying issues such as anxiety, depression and post traumatic stress are common reasons why women abuse alcohol. Oftentimes there is a history of abuse, violence and/or neglect from their past and that may continue in the present. Due to biological factors, a woman’s health will decompensate quickly from chronic alcohol use. A woman who suffers from alcoholism should enter alcohol detox and a substance abuse treatment program to stop unhealthy behaviors and obtain healthier coping skills for underlying issues.
Women receive many messages from society, parents, teachers, and friends about what role they should play in life. Oftentimes these messages can be conflicting depending on the communicator. As time goes on, new roles are added to the traditional mom and wife. Now women can be moms, wives, and/or have careers.
These roles may or may not come to fulfillment. If they do not, it can be devastating. For example, a woman who was told by her parents that college is the place to find a husband, will either find a husband in college or inevitably feel like a failure if not married by a certain age.
Conflicting thoughts produce stress and a woman may seek substance abuse or alcohol for relief. Pressure to be successful or fit into traditional roles contributes to uncomfortable feelings leading to alcohol abuse. Role identity conflict can produce anxiety and/or depression which contribute to the development of alcoholism in women.
Underlying Issues for Alcoholic Women
Anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress are among the most common underlying issues for women who suffer from alcoholism. Women have different experiences in their childhood and/or adulthood which may lead to one of these three disorders. Each of these disorders has their own root of development and corresponding symptoms. The symptoms produced by these disorders increase the desire for a woman to escape through alcohol abuse.
An anxious woman will focus on where she is in her life, what direction she is going in and where she needs to be. She will appear irritable, preoccupied, frequently worried and obsessive thoughts. Past and future events will be part of her obsession and manifest in physical and psychological symptoms. These symptoms are stressful and contribute to her looking for relaxation, which alcohol temporarily provides.
A depressed woman will engage in negative self-talk, she will be critical of herself and others and she will have unresolved anger issues. She may also have depression related to unrealized expectations of self, feel stuck or stagnant in life and relationships, and fear being disrespected, unloved or unaccepted. Alcohol is a way of temporarily relieving the intense feelings related to depression.
- Post Traumatic Stress:
A woman who has experienced a traumatic event is left with memories of the event which produce physical and psychological symptoms. Traumatic events include, but are not limited to: accidents, childhood sexual abuse and/or neglect, rape, sudden death of a loved one, domestic violence, etc. Memories are never forgotten; however, a woman needs to learn how to cope with residual feelings without the use of alcohol.
Alcohol abuse will increase the symptoms of these moods. The relief alcohol offers is only temporary, therefore, consumption of alcohol will become more frequent. Frequency of alcohol use builds tolerance in the body, and the woman will require a larger quantity of alcohol to obtain the desired effect. This has a negative impact on a women’s biological chemistry.
Alcohol Effects on the Woman’s Body
Alcohol is absorbed through the digestive tract and it needs water to break down properly within the body. Women do not metabolize alcohol as well as men, due to the fact that they have less water in their systems. Dependence develops quicker for women than men because of the intense effects of alcohol on a woman’s body. Women face increased health issues related to alcoholism. Some of these health concerns are:
- Heart Disease
- Calcium Loss
- Liver Disease
- Reproductive Problems
- Memory Loss
Chronic alcohol use impairs the alcoholic’s judgment and decision making. Many health concerns get neglected and worsen. Alcoholism is a deadly disease and women who are alcoholic are on a fast track to death. Those affected by alcohol abuse and alcoholism should seek addiction treatment at an alcohol rehab facility.
Resolving Women’s Issues in Alcoholism Treatment
Women who have underlying issues in conjunction with alcoholism need to have those issues addressed simultaneously in substance abuse treatment. Detoxing from alcohol is the first step to getting healthy. A woman will also have to challenge and reframe negative messages, resolve issues of conflict and address health concerns while in and out of alcohol rehabilitation treatment.. An alcohol rehab facility provides a safe environment for women to begin exploring issues of vulnerability while supportive staff offers encouragement throughout the duration of treatment.
Most women who suffer from alcoholism find it difficult to stop drinking since most do not receive support from their loved ones. For example, a woman who is an alcoholic, wife, mother and career woman needs to attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings after work. Her husband doesn’t see the need for it because watching the kids interferes with his own down time after work. He gives her a hard time and makes her feel guilty. She ends up neglecting her need to go to meetings and staying sober alone proves to be too difficult.
It is important that all members of an alcoholic family be educated about the disease of alcoholism. A comprehensive substance abuse treatment program will offer family counseling to give the alcoholic and family additional support. A woman who is an alcoholic needs family support especially in the initial stages of recovery. Women are mothers, wives and/or career women and without support from their loved ones for alcohol treatment they will neglect their health, sobriety, family and careers.