When a Glass of Wine Becomes Too Much: The Problems With Female Alcoholics

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It’s still hard to be a woman in the United States, we’re behind on elected officials, the pay gap, and women in leadership positions. But do you know what women aren’t (much) behind it? Alcohol abuse.

It’s not something we’re very happy about, but it’s true. With the stigma of drinking fading and the rise of more single and independent women, there are more female alcoholics than ever. But does that fully explain it?

Yes and no. Alcohol affects the female body differently than the male body and that lends to the female alcoholics trend. Want to learn more and potentially get help? Keep reading below.

A Gendered Note

In this article, we’re going to make some sweeping statements. We realize they aren’t true for all women and that some men may identify with this article. That’s okay – we’re addressing the general trend.

Social Stigmas

We didn’t make up the fact that women alcoholics are on the rise. Recent data shows that 5.3 million women in the United States drink alcohol in an unsafe manner.

Some of those women are on college campuses, which already experience higher binge drinking episodes than other places. They may drink to keep up with the party-girl image or get roped into drinking with their friends.

Even the women who know their limits tend to ignore them in social, collegiate settings.

It’s not getting better. In the last twenty years, the number of female binge drinkers doubled. With tolerances built up during college, more women are graduating and on-track to becoming female alcoholics.

Alcohol Effects Women Differently

Not only is drinking more accepted for women, but it affects our bodies differently. According to this source, one drink on an empty stomach is enough to render a woman incapable of driving, blood alcohol content-wise.

On one hand, women tend to weigh less than men, so their blood alcohol content rises higher with the same amount. Though they weight less, women have more body fat than men. Body fat retains alcohol.

So even if a similar sized man and woman drank the same amount, the woman would get intoxicated faster.


There are two enzymes in the human body that women have fewer than men when it comes to alcohol. Alcohol dehydrogenase and aldehyde dehydrogenase. Both enzymes function to absorb and process alcohol.

The lower levels allow women’s bodies to absorb alcohol into the blood faster. This is yet another reason women get drunker quicker than men.

The Genetic Lottery and Female Alcoholics

Finally, women who have alcoholics in their family are more likely to become alcoholics. This is true for all family members, but women experience the predisposition a little more.

Women are especially likely to become female alcoholics if they have a history of trauma or mental illness. We see more women drinking to excess if their partners do so regularly or if they have family members with a similar dependence.

Finally, if a woman finds that she has a higher tolerance than her peers, she’s more likely to drink to show off.

Getting Help

If you find you’re already experiencing symptoms of dependence or you suspect you have an addiction, it’s time to get help. If you’re reading this article for a loved one – the same applies.

The biggest hurdle of getting past an alcohol addiction isn’t finding a program. You can find a program here. It’s motivating yourself or your loved one to get help and change their day-to-day life.

Moving On

If you or a loved one is facing an addiction, take a deep breath. There are resources in place to get you help and to aid you in rebuilding a normal life.

Want a guide for non-drinking activities to do with your female alcoholic friends? Click here.

By | 2018-10-04T00:41:53+02:00 October 4th, 2018|Health, Lifestyle|

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