• Women are physically more susceptible than men to the effects of alcohol because of comparably lower body mass, higher fat content and hormonal differences.
  • Alcohol impairs your judgment and lowers your inhibitions. These effects can lead women to put themselves in socially inappropriate or even dangerous situations. Long-term alcoholism can also result in irreparable physical damage.
  • A counsellor, psychologist or therapist can assist alcoholic women to develop healthier alternative behaviours to drinking, and provide support on the road to sobriety.

Women and alcohol

Alcoholism is a progressive disease. This means that addiction to alcohol becomes progressively worse over time, making it harder for the body to cope without it and more difficult for the person to cease drinking. Alcohol abuse also has great detrimental impact on the body, not only irreparably damaging the liver but also impairing the alcoholic’s judgment which may lead to accidents and/or abusive or dangerous behaviours. High amounts of alcohol consumption are often disguised by women who are functional alcoholics, but the damage the substance creates still persists even if the use is hidden. (This article is electronically protected – Copyright © Associated Counsellors & Psychologists Sydney PTY LTD)

What is the Progress of Alcoholism in Women?

Very often, women begin drinking when they are either teenagers or young adults. Initially, it can be a way to fit in, or to relieve nerves in social situations. However, women are more easily susceptible to the affects of alcohol because of lower body mass, hormonal and a higher body fat content as compared with men. Frequently, women do not realise that they are getting drunk, even after a few drinks, because their male counterparts are able to drink several drinks in a row and not experience the same effects.

Physically, the more often a woman drinks, the more her body chemistry adjusts to accommodate the intake of alcohol in her system. For women, this process can be unexpectedly fast and, as a result, women tend to become more quickly dependent on alcohol than men do.

The longer-term physical affects of alcohol abuse are quite striking. Too much alcohol consumed over a short period of time can lead to alcohol poisoning. Consuming large amounts of alcohol over the long term can also result in permanent alterations in cognitive functioning and intelligence performance, eventually causing brain damage. With continued consumption of alcohol over time, liver functioning begins to decline and the body becomes so physiologically addicted to the alcohol that it needs a constant intake just to avoid malnutrition. Women are more susceptible to these affects because of smaller body mass. (This article is electronically protected – Copyright © Associated Counsellors & Psychologists Sydney PTY LTD)

What happens if I stop drinking?

If you stop drinking, either because you have received treatment or have discovered a way to help yourself stop drinking without intervention, the disease goes into a recovery period. However, most individuals with any kind of addiction issue, whether it is alcohol, nicotine, cocaine or any other type of drug, are expected to relapse. The body craves whatever the substance of addiction is, and when we are emotionally vulnerable we are in danger of falling back into old habits of using.

What happens if I relapse and start drinking again?

When relapse occurs, the body reacts as if there had been no gap in using, even if you have been clean and sober for years and years. The disease of alcoholism and addiction reappears with great intensity and damage to the liver and central nervous system occur as if there was never any period of recovery.

It becomes more and more difficult to return to clean and sober living the more often relapse occurs, because the body will fight harder and harder to continue the addiction. With alcohol in particular, the body accommodates alcohol to the point where it must have it in order to function. This results in extremely strong cravings that can be very difficult to resist. (This article is electronically protected – Copyright © Associated Counsellors & Psychologists Sydney PTY LTD)

Binge drinking and women

While an occasional glass of wine with dinner or an evening cocktail from time to time may not be a problem, chronic daily alcohol intake can have severe and substantial repercussions for women’s health. Binge drinking among women has been steadily increasing in recent years, giving rise to concerns about the long-term physical and emotional effects of alcoholism.

What is binge drinking?

Binge drinking is the consumption of four or more alcoholic drinks within a short – two to three hours – period of time. Traditionally, it has been thought that binge drinking is an activity that is more common during teenage years and early adulthood, where partying with large amounts of alcohol tends to be more common than for older adults.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, approximately 60 percent of women have engaged at least once in an episode of binge drinking within the past year, with the highest percentage of women engaging in binge drinking in the 18 to 24 year old age bracket. However, more recent studies have indicated that binge drinking as a chronic behaviour is rising among older Australians, with 23 percent of women aged 50 to 75 admitting to episodes of binge drinking at least once a month within the past 12 months. (This article is electronically protected – Copyright © Associated Counsellors & Psychologists Sydney PTY LTD)

Why is binge drinking dangerous?

Consuming large amounts of alcohol quickly, particularly with little food in the digestive system, can result in alcohol intoxication and even poisoning. This places the person at risk of severe physical consequences, not only in terms of the dangers of driving drunk, but also in terms of brain damage, increasing the possibility of finding themselves in a dangerous situation or engaging in activities they would not normally consider were it not for their impaired judgment. (This article is electronically protected – Copyright © Associated Counsellors & Psychologists Sydney PTY LTD)

The effect of alcohol on our inhibitions?

Inhibitions serve to protect us in many ways. Our inhibitions help us determine appropriate behaviours in social situations and allow us to maintain actions that are in alignment with our personal and cultural values. For example, we may personally believe that certain sexual activities should only occur in privacy and only among people who are in committed relationships. Alcohol, however, lowers our inhibitions and leads us to act in ways which we would never do whilst sober. Once intoxicated, women tend to be louder, more forthcoming, more flirtatious, inappropriate and more emotional than our sober selves would allow.

Why is lowering of inhibitions dangerous?

Inhibitions protect us from socially awkward and inappropriate behaviour, by guiding the way we interact with our peers. Without those restrictions, we risk behaviour that might be inappropriate or even dangerous – we might flirt with our boss, tell a racist joke or go home with a stranger.

When we are drunk, we lose our ability to be alert to risky situations or people who may desire to harm us. Consider the woman who goes to a party, has a few too many drinks and soon finds herself with an aggressive and determined man who is pressuring her to have sex with her. Her ability to safely negotiate her way out of the situation whilst drunk is severely compromised and if he decides to force himself on her, she has very little ability to defend herself because her motor functions and cognitive abilities are depressed. (This article is electronically protected – Copyright © Associated Counsellors & Psychologists Sydney PTY LTD)

How can counselling help with alcoholism?

Women face challenges with alcoholism that are different from men because of the social and emotional associations we have with alcohol. Working with a professional counsellor, psychiatrist or therapist can help us understand the reasons we began drinking in the first place and what emotions were associated with our first drink.

Other issues that often are uncovered in the counselling process are family beliefs and patterns of alcohol or other drug use. Very often, we unconsciously continue family patterns of alcohol use and integrate them into our teen and adult experiences. Understanding these patterns allows us to make conscious choices about whether or not those patterns and beliefs serve us, and if we want to continue them.

Professional counsellors also have specific training in helping individuals work through issues of addiction. Much of the process of counselling sees the counsellor, psychologist or therapist provide education to their client about addictions, the effects of alcohol use on the body, and the impact on family and close relationships. Counselling can also help the client develop healthier strategies for dealing with times when she is feeling stressed and wants to fall back into old drinking habits. Finally, counsellors, psychologists and therapists provide unconditional support and options for conquering alcohol. (This article is electronically protected – Copyright © Associated Counsellors & Psychologists Sydney PTY LTD)

How do I find help with alcoholism and drinking problems?

If you or you or someone you know is struggling with alcohol or substance abuse, a counsellor, psychologist or therapist may be able to help. To book a consultation with a qualified counsellor or to obtain further advice please contact Associated Counselors & Psychologists Sydney. Common mispellings and alternative search terms used to find this page include: Alchol Abuse; Women and Alchol; Alcoholism Therepy; Alcoholic Women Councilor; Counseling Women Alcholics; Alcohol Therepist; Alcholism Counciling; Alcohoilsm Psychologist; Sydnye Counseling; Women and Alcohol; Substance Abuse Alcohol; Bing Drinking, Lowering Inhibitions.

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