The Impacts of Alcoholism on Women

Often the focus of alcohol abuse and addiction is on men. However, women are just as likely to form a dependence on alcohol as men, and in many cases suffer much greater negative impact from the overall effects of alcoholism.

Breast Cancer

Women who drink increase their chances of developing breast cancer. Risks are especially high for women who both drink heavily and smoke. Alcohol also increases the risks for cancers of the head, neck and digestive tract.

Alcohol Poisoning

Alcohol impacts a woman’s body differently than it does a man’s, putting women at a higher risk for alcohol poisoning. Generally women have a lower percentage of water in their bodies, causing blood alcohol levels to rise faster than a man who consumes the same amount of alcohol.


Women who drink increase their risks of becoming victims of sexual assault and violence, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Drinking impairs brain function which places many women in situations where they can more easily be taken advantage of, as well as making it more difficult for them to defend themselves.

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

Women who are pregnant, or at risk of becoming pregnant, place their pregnancy at risk by drinking. Alcohol increases the risks for fetal alcohol syndrome, one of the leading and most preventable causes of premature births, mental impairment and developmental defects in children.

Liver Disease

Both men and women who drink excessively are more prone to liver disease and cirrhosis. However, women who drink are at a higher risk both for developing liver disease, as well as dying from the condition.

Heart Disease

Chronic alcohol abuse is one of the leading causes of heart disease among both men and women. However, like liver disease, women who drink are at a higher risk for developing alcohol-related diseases of the cardiovascular system. With heart disease ranked as the leading cause of death in the United States, treatment for women suffering from alcoholism becomes that much more important. Luckily, an increasing amount of women’s alcohol treatment centers, such as New River Wellness Center and other premier facilities, offer treatment programs geared specifically towards women, focusing on their unique issues and needs during detox and treatment.

As stigma continues to fade regarding women and drinking, the statistics of women with alcohol problems will only continue to rise. Education and the availability of proper treatment programs are essential components in stopping the progression of alcoholism as a disease. These actions reduce the health impacts not only on the women who drink, but their families, both current and yet to be born.