Alcohol Research with Women
Alcohol Research with Women
Currently, research is indicating that women are developing more alcohol-related diseases that are impairing women’s health across the United States. For years research has indicated that alcohol affects women differently than men. Compared with men, women develop an alcohol-related disease more quickly and with less alcohol. Alcohol detox programs & alcohol rehabs in Texas are great for helping women to stop drinking alcohol.
There is a growing concern regarding this upward trend of women developing more physical problems because of their alcohol usage. The problem is so severe that medical professionals are now encouraging women who are drinking alcohol moderately to stop drinking and begin practicing total abstinence for precautionary reasons.
The hope is that by educating and raising awareness that women who drink alcohol regularly will hopefully reconsider their usage of alcohol and become more informed about their overall health as it relates to drinking alcohol. Medical professionals do believe we can change the rise of women developing alcohol-related diseases.
In addition to suggesting that women abstain from drinking alcohol medical professionals are also encouraging women to stop using illicit drugs. More women are drinking alcohol and mixing prescription drugs or using illicit substances combined with alcohol which can also increase the risk of women developing alcohol-related diseases.
The agency SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration has released a fact sheet that explains how women who binge drink are at high risk of developing problems related to alcohol. Binge pattern drinking is for those who drink 4 or more drinks of alcohol on one occasion. In contrast, a woman that is a heavy drinker will consume 8 or more drinks per week.
Excessive drinking is a problem for women across Texas and the United States. There are lots of reasons that people drink alcohol and there still exist many mistaken beliefs associated with the safety of drinking alcoholic beverages. One important fact is that women possess distinctive risk factors with the onset of the use of alcohol and they have a greater propensity for health-related consequences from alcohol and drug consumption.
In addition to higher health-related risks, women are more likely to develop problems associated with reproduction, including fetal effects from drinking during pregnancy, spontaneous abortion, infertility, and early onset of menopause. Below is a list of indicators of risky or excessive drinking signs.
INDICATORS OF RISKY OR EXCESSIVE DRINKING
- Drink more, or longer than you intended
- Try to cut down or stop drinking, but are not able to stop
- Must drink more than you once did to get the effect you want
- Continue to drink even though it makes you feel depressed or anxious or adds to another health problem
- Loved ones and/or trusted friends have made comments about your drinking pattern
- Spend a lot of time drinking or thinking about alcohol
- Find that drinking often interferes with daily activities, family, friends, and/or work
- Have been arrested or had other legal problems due to drinking
- Experience symptoms of withdrawal when you do not drink (withdrawal symptoms include shakiness, sweating, tremors, headaches, anxiety, irritability, and/or insomnia)
Medical Professionals are Concerned with Women & Alcohol
What happened to change the medical professionals’ opinions about the usage of substances like alcohol and illicit drugs? Doctors are concerned with research that is indicating that women in our society are rapidly experiencing more diseases related to drinking more alcohol in our society. Many of these physicians believe if we educate women that we can prevent the current upward trend of more women drinking alcohol and curb the rising statistics of women developing an alcohol-related diseases.
It is the hope of substance use disorder organizations, prevention programs, medical professionals, and national substance use and mental health agencies that by increasing education and encouraging women to change their behaviors we can slow the rise of alcohol-related diseases.
Alcohol Use Disorders & Women
There is the reality that some women have already developed severe alcohol use disorders and are now experiencing alcohol-related diseases that are impairing their health. For these individuals, it is recommended that they seek help from an alcohol rehab program to address their alcohol use disorder. In many cases, an individual with an alcohol use disorder can be treated simultaneously along with other alcohol-related diseases.
A certain number of women will require alcohol detoxification to help them stop drinking alcohol because they will have already developed a severe alcohol use disorder. Medical professionals are more likely to encourage women who have developed alcohol disorders or substance-related disorders to seek help from an alcohol use disorder treatment program.
Women Who Drink Alcohol Regularly Can Develop Liver Diseases
The trend of more women developing an alcohol-related disease is on the rise across the United States. Research has indicated that the effects of alcohol on women and their inability to tolerate the substance throughout the body is the leading cause of more women developing alcohol-related liver disease. The common denominator is that more women are consuming alcohol regularly. It has also been noted that with increased usage of women drinking alcohol there is an increased risk of other alcohol-related injuries in the body.
Can We Stop the Upward Trend of More Women Drinking Alcohol?
We will need to educate women more about the harmful consequence of alcohol and how alcohol affects women who drink the substance. To prevent a problem there must be more medical professionals, agencies, and prevention programs willing to educate and counsel those who report alcohol consumption.
There is a risk associated with excessive alcohol consumption for women. Women need to know that prolonged alcohol usage can increase the likelihood that they will develop an alcohol-related disease. Women need to know that alcohol-related liver disease or associated complications can be prevented by just practicing total abstinence from alcohol consumption.
The United States is seeing an increase in women developing alcohol use disorders. Along with more women developing alcohol-related disorders the most concerning of these disorders is the devastating complications associated with end-stage liver disease. To complicate matters the consequences of excessive alcohol consumption do not affect every heavy drinker at the same frequency. It is estimated that 15% of women who drink heavily will develop cirrhosis from daily or heavy alcohol consumption. ¹
Other women do have a genetic predisposition to develop end-stage effects of alcohol-related liver injury. In the past alcohol-associated liver injury has been reported to be more with men. However, with more women developing alcohol-related liver disease it is no longer just focused on men. Women are now developing alcohol-related complications because of excessive alcohol usage.
Women are Now Drinking More Alcohol
In the past men largely consumed more alcohol than women and as a result, alcohol-related liver disease research was focused more on helping men stop drinking alcohol than women. However, a recent study that examined the presence of alcohol-related liver disease from 2009 to 2015 demonstrated an increased incidence (50%) of alcohol-related liver injury in women, as compared to a 30% increase among men during the same period.²
To keep this in perspective it is believed that the rise in more women drinking alcohol is the cause of the increased alcohol-related liver injury. Some other reports and studies have reported an 80% increase in heavy alcohol consumption among women and a 30% increase among women. The increased rate and uptake of liver disease are a cause of concern for all healthcare professionals and women who are drinking excessive alcohol.
What Are Some Other Solutions to Help Women Stop Drinking Alcohol?
Alcohol treatment is one option for people who have developed an alcohol use disorder. Alcohol treatment programs are designed to help people stop drinking alcohol and learn other ways to remain abstinent from alcohol or other substances. Some of the most common types of alcohol-related treatment programs are alcohol detoxification programs, inpatient alcohol treatment programs, residential alcohol treatment programs, partial hospitalization programs, and intensive outpatient treatment programs. All these types of treatment programs are designed to help people stop drinking alcohol and teach people how to not return to drinking alcohol as well as help a person overcome alcohol-related problems.
Alcohol Detoxification Programs
Medical detoxification or alcohol detoxification programs are designed to help a person eliminate alcohol from one’s body safely. Some people require this level of treatment because they develop withdrawal symptoms when they stop drinking alcohol. Some of the most common alcohol withdrawal symptoms are listed below.
Common Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms
|Rapid heart rate
|Increased body temperature
|Increased blood pressure
|Abnormally fast breathing
|Altered mental status
*Note this is not a complete listing of all withdrawal symptoms
Alcohol detoxification programs help a person to safely detox and reduce withdrawal symptoms by applying medical detox protocols to prevent alcohol withdrawal symptoms from disrupting a person as they become abstinent from alcohol.
Inpatient Alcohol Treatment Programs
Some women will require additional care and observation because of their alcohol detoxification along with other co-existing disorders that may need to be stabilized. Inpatient alcohol treatment programs help with this process. In the case of women who are dealing with multiple disorders an inpatient alcohol treatment program can help a person transition into less intense types of treatment services.
Residential Alcohol Treatment Programs
There are two primary types of residential alcohol treatment programs that individuals attend for alcohol use disorders. There is the 30-day alcohol residential treatment program and the 90-day alcohol residential treatment program. Both types of treatment programs help people to recover from their alcohol use disorders. The 30-day residential alcohol program is considered a short-term rehab and the 90-day residential alcohol program is considered a long-term rehab program.
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¹Sahlman P, Nissinen M, Puukka P, et al. Genetic and lifestyle risk factors for advanced liver disease among men and women. J Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2020;35(2):291-298. https://doi.org/10.1111/jgh.14770.
²Mellinger JL, Shedden K, Winder GS, et al. The high burden of alcoholic cirrhosis in privately insured persons in the United States. Hepatology. 2018;68(3):872-882. https://doi.org/10.1002/hep.29887.