The Key Differences in Men and Women’s Alcohol Addiction

If you think that because you’re a woman, you’re somehow less likely to become addicted to alcohol, you need to think again. Despite the common stereotype that women are more at risk from consuming alcohol, men and women are actually affected by it in different ways—and not always in the ways you might think! So if you want to know how alcohol affects women differently than men, and how this can lead to different types of treatment options, keep reading below!

Why Addictions Are Different Between Women and Men

For starters, men have a much higher biological tolerance for alcohol. They’re also less likely to self-report as addicted, meaning that it can be tougher to get them into rehab. That’s why specific female rehab clinics for alcoholics are on the rise. Some facilities take a holistic approach, providing women with physical, mental and emotional support rather than simply taking them off of alcohol or drugs.

 Differences in Genetics

There are biological differences that make men more prone to alcohol addiction than women. Overall, women have less body water than men do, so alcohol does not absorb as easily into their bodies. Also, a woman’s liver is smaller than a man’s and metabolises alcohol at a slower rate—meaning it will stay in her system longer.

Female Bodies Can’t Break Down Ethanol as Easily

Research suggests that one of these biological factors is that women’s brains have a lower tolerance for alcohol, meaning women are more vulnerable to developing alcoholism. Additionally, women metabolise alcohol differently than men. In fact, research shows that female rats demonstrate much stronger preferences for alcohol than male rats, whereas male rats prefer non-alcoholic water.

Impacts Mental Health

For both men and women, drinking negatively impacts mental health. However, because of biological differences, women experience several unique aspects to their alcohol addiction including changes in hormone levels when they drink alcohol. Additionally, for women there are also factors like body image that increase or decrease a woman’s risks associated with drinking. These factors are completely separate from those for men. That’s why it’s important for a woman to find help at an all-female rehab clinic specifically designed to address her unique needs.

Affects Physical Health

Some of alcohol’s negative impacts on women are physical. Heavy drinking is linked to an increased risk of breast cancer, as well as a number of cancers that men also face, including liver cancer, throat cancer, esophageal cancer, mouth/throat/voice box cancer, colorectal cancer and pancreatic cancer. In fact, experts note that women are actually more susceptible to some cancers than men because alcohol weakens a woman’s immune system.

Addressing alcohol addiction is hard enough for men, but when you factor in women’s complex relationship with alcohol, it becomes even more difficult. To address a woman’s need for support as she works toward sobriety, there are many specific treatment options designed to help her succeed. At a rehab centre[1]  specifically geared toward women, patients will find a private [2] environment where they can speak openly about their experiences with alcohol and learn how to live happily without it.


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