We are learning more and more that alcoholism affects women quite differently than it does men. Physically, women feel the effects of alcohol faster and with more intensity than men do, pound for pound, due to certain hormones in the blood. Women tend to use different things to motivate them to quit drinking than men do, specifically be reinventing themselves and seeking out new passions in life. According to the book Women Under the Influence, which is based on research by The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, women also begin the path to alcoholism for different reasons.
According to this book, women begin drinking due to many life situations that aren’t as applicable to men. Unfortunately, this often leads to full-blown alcoholism. Relieving feelings of depression, lowering sexual inhibitions, gaining confidence, and taking a break from being stressed out or bored are some of the factors which are more likely to cause women to drink than men. They are also more likely to begin alcohol abuse to deal with an emotional problem like loneliness or to deal with a major life change.
Many of the things that lead women into alcoholism are major societal problems. A history of sexual abuse is a huge risk factor for future alcoholism, and women are much more likely to have been sexually abused as a child. Some women also begin an addiction in an attempt to lose weight. Eating disorders, which are much more common among women, are another major risk factor for alcoholism.
Many addiction treatment centers have programs specifically geared to treating these causes. For example, raising self-esteem is a focus of many treatment programs. There are rehab facilities which offer help for both alcoholism and eating disorders. Women who suffer from a dual diagnosis of both alcoholism and depression can find a treatment facility that meets those needs.