When it comes to alcohol, most people have had at least one incidence of drinking where they drank so much that they ended up embarrassing themselves in the process. Indulging in a drinking spree is okay if it is not done regularly; however, when it becomes a pattern, then that shows that there is an underlying issue that needs to be addressed immediately. In the United States, as much as 15 million people have alcohol use disorder.
As much as one-third of the 15 million people are women. Alcohol use disorder refers to a disorder wherein the affected person is seen to be obsessed with drinking, someone that is completely preoccupied with alcohol due to an emotional dependence on it.
Alcoholism is a serious matter which if left untreated might have detrimental effects on the individual’s mental and physical health, their work, relationships, and other things that are of great importance to them. An individual who is mildly addicted to drinking may not face many issues, but their condition can get worse if the drinking problem is not nibbed in the bud.
With the progression of the drinking issue, the severity of consequences also increases, and the individual might have to face problems with keeping their job, or housing along with that putting a stop on the alcohol consumption also gets more difficult.
Alcohol also works on the same principle that stimulation of certain pleasure centers that result in the release of dopamine which creates a heightened sense of euphoria which also causes the individual to develop alcohol tolerance. These extreme cravings can become a hindrance when it comes to as it results in withdrawal symptoms. These signs indicate that an individual has become dependent on alcohol which a lot of people only experience when they continue drinking heavily for many years.
A lot of people do not reach the stage of alcohol use disorder with just one or two occasional drinks; however, frequent heavy consumption of alcohol might cause them to develop it. Women that are going through high levels of stress along with having other underlying conditions are more susceptible to developing alcohol use disorder. Since it has been seen that heavy use of alcohol is related to elevated levels of stress along with depression a lot of women who are experiencing these are more likely to turn to alcohol as a way of coping up with them.
While for a short period of time alcohol does make a person feel euphoric; however, in the long run, it worsens the pre-existing condition of stress and depression which is generally seen when alcohol is consumed in large amounts for a long period of time. Additionally, it has also been seen that those individuals that resort to alcohol as a way to distract themselves from stress are more susceptible to developing alcohol use disorder as compared to those individuals that only drink in social settings.
Along with worsening stress and depression, women that have a heavy drinking problem are more likely to ruin their sexual health. Being under the influence of alcohol, women are more at risk of engaging in unprotected sex which might result in unplanned pregnancies. Along with that, there is a high risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases. Those women who are using contraceptives like birth control pills are more at risk of forgetting to take their dose, which also might result in an unplanned pregnancy.
Alcohol does not negatively affect the efficacy of birth control pills; however, they might extend the process of alcohol metabolization, which might further extend its intoxicating effects. Alcohol consumption also negatively impacts fertility making it hard for a woman to conceive. Those who continue drinking alcohol even when they are pregnant are at a high risk of developing gestational complications, a miscarriage, and it also might hinder the proper growth of the fetus.
As compared to men, women naturally have a low alcohol tolerance meaning they do not have to drink much to get drunk. Also, the rate at which alcohol is metabolized is much slower in women than men.
According to a study published in the JAMA Psychiatry from the year 2002 to 2013, there was an increase of about 58 per cent in women that engaged in binge drinking each week. Binge drinking means drinking a total of four and more drinks within a period of two hours. However, this does not mean that all women that engage in binge drinking develop alcohol use disorder. Some women might not drink that frequently but end up drinking in large amounts during such periods of binge drinking.
Binge drinking even when it is done occasionally is highly dangerous as those that are not into drinking that frequently tends to ignore the amount of alcohol that they are consuming during these periods which can result in alcohol poisoning. Alcohol poisoning refers to the consumption of alcohol in large quantities within a short span of time which can cause difficulty in breathing, issues with the functioning of the heart and the brain along with inducing coma and possibly death as well.
Women that indulge in binge drinking are likely to go overboard, which might cause them to experience blackouts and can also result in them doing certain things that they do not recall doing the next day. This may cause them to damage their relationships and might also prompt them to do other things that they might greatly regret later on as alcohol is known to impair judgment and get rid of inhibitions.
In the long-run women that continue to drink heavily might have to face some very serious problems. They are also more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety issues. Women that drink heavily are also more likely than men to develop liver disorders like cirrhosis. Along with that alcohol consumption also puts a person at risk of developing heart disorders, cancers and according to a research done by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention alcohol is also seen to shrink a person’s brain. The research also indicates that these negative effects associated with heavy drinking are more likely to be experienced by women as compared to men; also, these are experienced sooner in most cases. Unlike men, women are at a greater risk of developing complications that come with excessive consumption of alcohol, even when the amount consumed by both is the same.
Drinking in women has been seen to negatively impact their sexual, mental and physical health. They need fewer amounts of alcohol for them to experience the risks that come with heavy and prolonged use of alcohol as compared to men. Also, these effects are experienced at an early age by women.
It is therefore very important to monitor alcohol consumption in women as it is apparent that they are more likely to develop health complications, unlike men. Those women that are experiencing a dependency on alcohol should get medical help as soon as possible so that they can be prevented from developing into alcohol use disorder.
- Taken from: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention & Jama Psyshiatry