Women and Alcohol: April is Alcohol Awareness Month Alcohol-Free Weekend April 5-7, 2013

Marty Mann, founder of the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc. (NCADD),  was the first woman to recover from alcoholism in Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). As a result, NCADD has always been dedicated to increasing public awareness and support for women struggling with addiction to alcohol and drugs. Alcoholism does not discriminate between men and women.

A woman’s pattern of drinking is most likely due to one or a combination of factors:
  • Having parents, siblings, and/or blood relatives with alcohol problems
  • Having a partner, lover and/or spouse who drinks heavily
  • Having the ability to “hold liquor” (tolerance for) more than others
  • Having a history of anxiety and/or depression
  • Having a history of childhood physical, emotional and/or sexual abuse
Women who develop alcoholism have death rates nearly 75% higher than those of male alcoholics. Death from suicide, alcohol-related accidents, heart disease, stroke, cirrhosis of liver, etc. occur more frequently in women vs. men.

Alcohol Effects: Women vs. Men
When you compare women and men of the same height, weight and build, men tend to have more muscle and less fat than women. Because muscle has more water than fat, alcohol is more diluted in a man than in a woman. Therefore, the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) that results will be higher in a woman than in a man, and the woman will feel the effects of the alcohol sooner than the man.

A common theme in women’s lives is stress. It is unclear just how stress leads to problem drinking, but research tends to support the link between coping with stress and problem drinking. For many women, alcohol becomes a means of coping with stresses like: living alone and dealing with loneliness; going through a separation and/or divorce; living unmarried with a partner; living with a husband who drinks too much; being in an abusive relationship; dealing with issues of parenting; experiencing the deep pain of losing a child.

But, most importantly, women can find help with their drinking!
Age and ethnicity are important to look at with respect to women and drinking. Young women in their 20’s and 30’s are more likely to drink than older women. However, there is an increasing number of women in their later years, 65 and older, who drink due to loneliness and depression. Heavy drinking among White (Caucasian) women is most common in the younger years; African American (Black) women tend to have more problems with drinking in their middle years; Hispanic (Latina) women drink along the lines common to their respective culture.

FACT: Drinking and driving is one of the leading causes of death for women.

Some key indicators of a woman who may be in trouble with alcohol:
  • Missing work or skipping child care responsibilities.
  • Drinking in dangerous situations, such as before or while driving a motor vehicle, transporting kids, etc.
  • Being arrested for driving under the influence (DUI/DWI)
  • Hurting someone while drinking: emotional/physical abuse
  • Continuing to drink even with ongoing alcohol-related tensions with family, friends, workplace, partners
  • Craving alcohol gets stronger over time and the compulsion to drink increases over time
  • Losing control and can’t stop drinking once begun
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms after they stop drinking: nausea; sweating; shakiness, anxiety
  • Developing a higher tolerance and to get a “high” from drinking they must consume more alcohol
If you are concerned about your own use of alcohol or drugs or you are concerned about a member of your family or a friend, contact NCADD local affiliate Camden County Council on Alcoholism & Drug Abuse, Inc. at 856-427-6553 or You may also visit

The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc. (NCADD) and its Affiliate Network is a voluntary health organization dedicated to fighting the Nation’s #1 health problem – alcoholism, drug addiction and the devastating consequences of alcohol and other drugs on individuals, families and communities. For more information on the NCADD and the use of alcohol or other drugs among women, visit

As seen in Burlington County Woman and Camden County Woman


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