Women and Alcoholism

Alcohol use is fairly common in the United States  While most adults in the US drink alcohol without it becoming problematic, a growing number of Americans are struggling with alcohol use disorder, alcoholism, and or problematic alcohol use. According to statistics from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), more than 5% of individuals age 12 or older meet the criteria for alcohol use disorder.

A large portion of those individuals does not seek treatment or professional help for their alcoholism or alcohol use disorder. When it comes to female Americans, they are statistically much less likely to seek treatment than their male counterparts. Why is this?

Pop Culture

While it may sound cliche to blame pop culture, it certainly plays a role. Drinking is glorified in pop culture and uniquely so for women. One example of this is the “mommy wine” culture. While this concept is not new, it has recently become extremely popular on social media. The basic premise of “mommy wine culture” is that women are extremely busy and overworked between their professional responsibilities, raising children, and maintaining their homes. As a result, they are encouraged to lean on wine as a crutch. There are countless videos on social media(some intended as parody) depicting busy moms drinking wine sneakily with comical captions such as mommy juice etc. While the average woman will not take all of these messages literally, over time it can lead to reduced sensitivity to excessive drinking and normalizing what would normally be considered problematic drinking.


Alcohol Use in Men vs. Women

It is still more common for men than women to consume alcohol. In addition on average men are much more likely to consume larger volumes of alcohol. According to the NIAAA, men drink about three times the volume of alcohol that women do as a group.

That being said, when considering excessive or problematic drinkers, the volume consumed matters far less than the effects of the ingested alcohol. It has been scientifically proven that alcohol affects women more than men. This is primarily due to the average man being larger in size than the average woman. This leads to a woman having a much higher BAC (Blood Alcohol Content) than a male after consuming the same quantity of alcohol.

This can lead to women becoming addicted to alcohol faster than men when drinking similar quantities.. Women and their loved ones may have a more difficult time identifying alcoholism or alcohol use disorder because the volumes consumed are smaller and deemed not excessive.

Women Seek Treatment Differently Than Men

Statistics tell us that women are less likely than men to seek specific alcoholism or alcohol use disorder treatment.. As a whole, female individuals are more likely to bring up issues to their primary care provider, such as a family doctor or OB/GYN. In these cases, women may not speak directly about alcohol abuse or the provider may not be adequately trained in behavioral health to identify a budding alcohol use disorder. It is also more common for women to seek treatment for depression and or anxiety than substance abuse disorder. The opposite is true for men.

While it is certainly important to communicate with your existing doctor regarding your mental health issues, speaking to the wrong providers about issues may lead to inappropriate referrals or at minimum less than-optimal referrals.

Here at Harbor Wellness and Recovery Center, we offer various levels of care to treat alcoholism, alcohol use disorder, substance use disorder, addiction, and other co-occurring conditions in women. For more information about our services please call us directly at 732-847-4555. We are available 24/7 to help. All calls are no obligation and are strictly confidential.