It’s no secret that alcohol addiction is a problem in the United States. In fact, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, about 15 million people in the U.S. have an alcohol use disorder. And while men are more likely to suffer from alcohol addiction, women are not immune. In this blog post, we will discuss the physical effects of alcohol on women’s bodies and how to spot signs of alcohol addiction in women.
Signs of Alcohol Addiction in Women
The signs of alcohol addiction in women can be quite different from the signs of alcohol addiction in men. In general, women are more likely to exhibit emotional symptoms of addiction, such as depression and anxiety. Some common signs of alcohol addiction in women include:
- Drinking alone or in secret
- Consuming more alcohol than they intended to
- Having trouble stopping once they’ve started drinking
- Feeling guilty or ashamed about drinking
- Feeling the need to drink in order to relax or calm down
- Hiding bottles of alcohol in places where others won’t find them (e.g., under the bed or behind bookshelves)
- Experiencing blackouts or memory loss
- Problems with relationships or job due to drinking
Physical Effects of Alcohol on Women’s Bodies
Alcohol is a toxin that can damage every organ in the body. When alcohol is consumed, it travels to the liver, where it is broken down and released into the bloodstream. The amount of alcohol circulating in the blood affects different parts of the body depending on how much a person drinks.
The physical effects of alcohol on women’s bodies can be quite serious and can include:
- Liver damage – The liver is the organ responsible for metabolizing and excreting toxins from the body. When a person drinks too much, their liver can’t keep up with demand and starts to break down. The liver can also become inflamed, which causes inflammation throughout your body as well as causing pain (e.g., joint stiffness).
- Weight gain – Because alcohol affects appetite regulation centers within the brain, people who are heavy drinkers tend to eat more than they need. Excess calories are stored as fat and can lead to weight gain over time.
- Digestive problems – Heavy drinking leads to stomach ulcers, which cause pain when eating or digesting food because the lining of your stomach becomes damaged from acid reflux caused by alcohol consumption. You may experience nausea after drinking, as well as diarrhea or constipation.
- Hormonal imbalance – Alcohol consumption can disrupt the balance of hormones in your body, which can lead to problems like infertility and irregular periods. It can also increase your risk for certain cancers, such as breast cancer.
- Cardiovascular problems – Drinking too much alcohol increases your risk for heart disease and stroke. Alcohol can also cause blood pressure to rise and increase the risk for abnormal heart rhythms.
- Brain damage – Chronic alcohol consumption can lead to brain shrinkage, which affects your ability to think, make decisions, and remember things. It can also increase your risk of developing dementia or other types of neurological disorders.
Treatment for Alcohol Addiction
Alcohol addiction is a serious problem for both men and women. However, women are more likely to suffer from specific physical effects of alcohol use. Now that you know some of the signs of alcohol addiction in women and the physical effects of alcohol on their bodies, if you or someone you know is suffering from alcohol addiction, it is essential to get help immediately.
In addition to treating the physical dependence, a program offering counseling and treatment for co-occurring mental health disorders, including anxiety, bipolar disorder, and depression, can provide a comprehensive approach to intervention for a person struggling with alcohol use disorder. Treatment should last long enough to allow the person in recovery the opportunity to learn new techniques and strategies to be prepared to meet their mental, emotional, physical, and psychological needs.
Hannah’s House is a well-known care provider offering a range of treatment programs targeting the recovery from substance use, mental health issues, and beyond. Our primary mission is to provide a clear path to a life of healing and restoration. We offer renowned clinical care for addiction and have the compassion and professional expertise to guide you toward lasting sobriety.
For more information about the signs of trauma in women or to learn about our programs, call us today: 561.841.1272.