Many of us have a drink now and then, especially in social situations. But for some, that occasional drink can become an addiction that impacts many aspect of life.
If you are a woman, whether you drink occasionally or you like to keep up with your male drinking partners, you need to understand how your gender may affect your tendency to drink and your ability to handle alcohol.
Alcohol is the most commonly used substance that can cause addiction, according to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence.
Approximately one out of every 12 adults experience alcohol abuse or dependence. That adds up to over 17.5 million people. (1)
Approximately one-third of all people with alcohol problems are women.(5)
In general, women are more vulnerable than men to health concerns related to alcohol. Consider these differences between men and women in connection with alcohol:
• More men than women drink alcohol. Approximately 58 percent of adult men and 46 percent of adult women reported that they drank alcohol in the previous 30 days, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.(2,3)
• Women may get drunk faster than men. In general, women have less body water for their weight than men. So when men and women drink the same amount of alcohol, the concentration of alcohol in the woman’s blood is typically higher than in the man’s blood.(4)
• Women metabolize alcohol faster than men. In general, women eliminate alcohol from their blood faster than men, which means they may get sober faster after drinking than men.(4)
• When women develop drinking problems, the alcohol abuse progresses faster for them than it does for men. This means women in general may lose control over their drinking more easily than men.(5)
• Women may experience negative consequences from their drinking faster than men, relative to when they regularly start getting drunk. These consequences may include poor impulse control, physical problems, relationship issues, poor self-esteem and problems functioning in everyday life.(5)