Alcohol Addiction in Women: Understanding the Unique Causes and Treatment Approaches
While men are more than twice as likely to binge drink, women face a unique set of factors that can render them vulnerable to alcohol use disorder (AUD) and addiction. These include financial hardship, intimate partner abuse, inadequate health insurance, lack of childcare and more.
Treatment is most effective when these factors are taken into account and adequately addressed during and after treatment, and throughout long-term recovery. Co-occurring disorders common in this population must be treated by teaching proper coping skills to reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety to prevent future relapse.
The Big Picture: Alcohol Addiction in Women
Not only do women face distinct physiological and lifestyle issues that can lead to alcohol use disorder, but they also face unique health risks associated with the disease.
Rates of Binge Drinking among Women
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicates:
- Nearly half of adult women report drinking alcohol in the past 30 days.
- Around 13% of adult women who report binge drinking do so 4 times a month, consuming 5 drinks per binge.
- In 2019, about 32% of female high school students consumed alcohol compared with 26% of male high school students.
- That same year, binge drinking was also more common among female (15%) than male (13%) high school students.
Unique Health Risks
The CDC also reports that:
- The risk of cirrhosis and other alcohol-related liver diseases is greater among women than men.
- Alcohol-related cognitive decline and shrinkage of the brain develop more quickly for women than for men.
- Women who binge drink are at increased risk for damage to the heart muscle at lower consumption levels and over fewer years of drinking than men.
- Drinking is also associated with breast cancer, even at low levels of consumption.