Alcoholism in Women: Signs, Dangers, and Help

Alcoholism in women may not always be apparent, but it’s a dangerous secret to hide. An addiction to alcohol will have an adverse effect on your health, mood, and relationships.

In this article, we’re taking a closer look at some of the common signs of alcoholism in women, as well as how to get the help needed to overcome alcoholism in a safe environment.

Alcoholism In Women

Women are known to be nurturers by nature. They are like superwomen – whether working or taking care of the family. Women are taught they should be kind-hearted, supportive, and gentle caretakers. They work hard to make the lives of those around them easier, often sacrificing themselves. Organizing and multi-tasking are their strong points. In general, women are loving creatures who, even when they don’t truly feel it, exude confidence when proving their value in the workplace or proving themselves to be the best mom in carpool lane.

So, what happens when a woman takes social drinking to a must-have level? How can a woman function with everything she must do in life and with everyone who is dependent on her – while under the influence of alcohol? Though not always successful, women do it – and no one may ever know their secret.

Here’s what you need to know about alcoholism in women.

How Common Is Alcoholism In Women?

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), 5.7 million women in the U.S. had an alcohol use disorder in 2014. Only 7.4% of these women sought treatment, compared to 9.8% of men suffering from the same.
To take it a step further, sometimes pregnancy causes women not to seek addiction treatment. The prevalence of babies suffering from Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is 2 to 7 cases per 1,000. And those suffering from some type of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders is as high as 20 to 50 cases per 1,000.

These numbers speak a grim reality about this dark secret.

Why Alcoholism In Women Isn’t Obvious

The gender gap plays a role in how we view alcoholics. Socially, men tend to not feel the need to hide their drinking and even have a hard time fitting in some social settings without drinking excessive amounts of alcohol. Women, on the other hand, are generally held to a higher standard and are expected to hold it together. For instance, a woman who drinks too much socially may be viewed as sloppy or frowned upon.

Truth is, in the scope of things, women have a lot to lose – whether it is an esteemed position at work or a family of 6 that need her, she cannot risk falling to an alcohol use disorder – and losing what is important to her. So, if she finds herself in the position of using alcohol excessively for one reason or another, she is likely to hide it.

PTA meetings, car pools, dance lessons, soccer practice, homework, cooking, laundry, board meetings, sales quotas, etc. Women fight hard to keep it together and press on, no matter how much is on their plate, even if it requires a drink. She feels the need to prove herself and not show signs of weakness. Besides, her delicate self-image is at risk.
Women spend years in life trying to build self-esteem and self-confidence. She is going to do everything she can to prevent you from discovering that she isn’t the superwoman she portrays.

Signs To Look For In Women

There are a few factors that may signal that a person – male or female – may be at risk of becoming an alcoholic. For instance:

  • Individuals who began drinking while in their teenage years
  • Individuals who have a family history of addictions (genetics)
  • And individuals who may suffer from disorders such as depression, anxiety, or ADHD.

While some women will exhibit traits common to individuals suffering from alcoholism, there are a few signs you can look for that are found particularly in women:

  • Pretentiously not partaking in an alcoholic beverage while others are.
  • Storing liquor bottles in odd places, such as in a nightstand, under the bed, under the sink, in the garage, etc.
  • Talking about how she has not been drinking.
  • Often carrying her own cup filled with a beverage, masked as water or soda.
  • Changing levels of alcohol in bottles found around the house.

Many women will drink alone and will go to great lengths to hide it. If you suspect someone you love may be abusing alcohol, it’s important to provide the support you can.

Why It Is So Dangerous?

Beyond the dangers of drinking and pregnancy, many women have the responsibility of taking care of others, thus putting the lives of many people in jeopardy.

For example, a mom who carries her insulated cup of what appears to be water (but is really vodka) while driving carpool each afternoon – not only is she risking the lives of her own kids, but others, as well.
Some women will go to great lengths to hide their addiction and it may not be discovered until it’s too late.

Help Is Available 

Treatment is readily available for women when they are ready to seek it. A woman’s need for treatment of alcohol abuse tends to dig deeper than that for men. Women’s treatment focuses on the whole self – emotional and self-esteem issues, co-occurring disorders, motherhood, support system for herself and her family, etc.

Many women have fears that may deter them from treatment unless they are handled delicately. For example, a woman may be afraid of losing her children, her family, or her career. She may worry about the toll her addiction and seeking treatment on the lives of her kids.
Researchers have discovered this need and it has been incorporated into many treatment programs that are designed specifically for women. However, the small percentage of women who actually seek treatment shows us that we still have a long way to go to provide a solution to this battle.

Alcoholism is not something that can be hidden forever. It will eventually take over and the fight will likely be lost. Know the signs and know where to turn for help – you could save more lives than just one!