Alcohol Detox & Rehab for Women
How do alcoholism and alcohol addiction affect women? What types of special treatment options do women have access to?
Alcoholism doesn’t discriminate. It affects people of every age, race, religion, and class. It also affects both genders equally. Women are just as susceptible to alcohol problems as men are.
But alcohol also has unique effects on women’s health. An untreated addiction can lead to all kinds of side effects that men don’t have to worry about.
Fortunately, there are a lot of resources available to help alcoholic women get sober. There are detox programs, rehab programs, and 12-step groups designed specifically for you.
In this article, we’ll show you how to find help.
Are You Addicted to Alcohol?
Alcoholics aren’t always the people who stay out banging on the bar at 2:01 AM, demanding another drink. They’re not always bums beneath bridges drinking malt liquor from brown paper bags, either.
Alcohol addiction takes many forms. It doesn’t care whether you’re the CEO of a Fortune 500 company or the coach for a youth soccer team. It doesn’t care about whether you’re a high school dropout or an Ivy League graduate.
This disease affects people from every walk of life, whether they’re young or old, gay or straight, employed or unemployed. Many female alcoholics are good mothers and executives with high-paying jobs. No one is immune to a drinking problem.
Alcohol Use Facts in the United States
Firstly, a better picture of the prevalence of alcohol use and abuse may be helpful. How many people in the United States consume alcohol on a regular basis?
Alcohol Addiction Statistics
Here are a few stats from studies conducted by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA):
- Among American women ages 18 and up, 5.3 million of them show signs of alcohol use disorder. That’s 6.2% of all the women in the U.S!
- Among American young women (ages 12-17), 2.7% show signs of alcohol addiction. In other words, 325,000 teenage girls are struggling with an untreated alcohol problem!
- Every year, roughly 26,000 women die of alcohol-related causes. These causes include car accidents, alcohol poisoning, and terminal illnesses like liver cancer.
Clearly, Americans have a serious drinking problem. The alcohol statistics in the U.S are frightening. Beer, wine, and liquor are available at nearly every corner store. This is probably why 26.9% of Americans admit to binge drinking (6 or more standard drinks) on a regular basis.
There is a significant difference between those who have drank in the past month versus those who have engaged in binge drinking in the past month.
Binge drinking is the consumption of 4 or more drinks for women or 5 or more drinks for men in a two hour period. Drinking like this often creates hazardous or dangerous situations for the drinker or those around them.
26.9 percent of individuals surveyed engaged in binge drinking in the past month according to alcoholism facts collected by the NIAAA. Although it tends to create or instigate harmful situations, binge drinking does not necessarily imply an explicit drinking problem.
The NIAAA continues through the progression of alcoholism to collect further statistics:
- 0 percent engaged in heavy alcohol use in the past month
- 1 million adults ages 18 and older in the US have an alcohol use disorder (AUD)
A significant portion of the population struggles with their alcohol use, both men and women, rich and poor, educated and uneducated, regardless of race.
These NIAAA alcoholism facts cover both women and men in the U.S. But what about women alone? How significant is alcohol use among women in the United States?
Statistics show that, on average, women consume alcohol less frequently than men do. For example, the NIAAA discovered that 34 percent of women reported consuming at least 12 drinks in the past year, while 56 percent of men reported the same thing.
Additionally, 10 percent of women and 22 percent of men consume, on average, at least two drinks per day. The NIAAA’s research also showed that men are more likely to develop a dependence on alcohol compared to women.
Still, their research also showed:
- 3 million women have an AUD (or 4.2 percent of women ages 18 and older)
- 325,000 girls ages 12 to 17 have an AUD (or 2.7 percent of this age range)
Though the percentages when compared to the entire population may be small, this does not negate the serious experience for those 5.6 million women living with an AUD. What exactly is alcohol use disorder, though, and how does it differ from alcoholism?
Across the board, it seems that men are more susceptible to alcoholism than women. For example, while 26,000 women die of alcohol-related causes each year, 62,000 men die from alcohol problems. That’s nearly triple the number of women!
And while roughly 6% of women show signs of alcoholism, nearly 10% of men are candidates for alcohol use disorder.
When it comes down to it, however, this statistic means nothing. If you’re a woman who struggles with addiction, get help. It doesn’t matter which gender is more prone to alcoholism. Any individual who suffers from this disease should seek treatment ASAP.
What Is the Difference Between Alcoholism and Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD)?
When we talk about alcoholism and alcohol use disorder, we’re referring to the same thing. These terms are simply used in different situations.
Here’s a breakdown:
Alcoholism is a non-medical term. People use this word to describe anyone who drinks too much. Popularized by programs like Alcoholics Anonymous, there is no hard and fast definition of an alcoholic; the term is used rather loosely.
Alcohol Use Disorder
Alcohol use disorder (AUD) is a medical diagnosis for problem drinking. This is the term that doctors use when they talk about the disease. It’s also a term used in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V), which is the official resource that doctors use to diagnose mental illnesses.
Ultimately the difference is that there is no way to be medically diagnosed as an alcoholic. Instead, an AUD is an official medical diagnosis received by a doctor or physician when the team of medical professionals realize the prevalence of an alcoholic’s drinking.
Why Do Women Become Alcoholics?
There’s no clear answer as to why women, or anyone, develops a drinking problem. The exact causes are still unknown.
However, there are many factors that may cause addictive behavior.
Some of these factors include:
- Peer pressure/environmental factors
- Stress at work, school, or home
- Social anxiety or depression
- Desire for excitement and fun
It’s never easy to figure out why someone becomes an alcoholic. Identifying the root of the issue may take years of therapy.
In order to get better, addicted women need to seek help. By checking into detox and attending rehab, they’ll have access to therapists who can help them overcome the issues that drive their addiction.
Do Men and Women’s Bodies Process Alcohol Differently?
When it comes down to it, there is a biological difference between the way men and women process alcohol. Their bodies absorb and metabolize alcohol differently. This is largely because men have more water in their bodies.
So, even if a man and woman weigh the same, the man’s body is more likely to process alcohol faster.
Women reach a higher blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level quicker than men do. This means that women become intoxicated quicker than their male counterparts. This is also the reason that drinking levels specify fewer drinks for women than men when considering binge drinking or BAC levels.
However, women’s bodies seem to expel alcohol from their system faster than men’s bodies do. This is because women have larger, stronger livers, which allows them to flush out the toxins at a rapid pace.
Women Metabolize Alcohol Faster – What Does This Mean?
Since women metabolize alcohol faster, obviously this implies they will get drunker quicker. It takes less for a woman to reach the same level of intoxication as a man. But this is not always a hard-and-fast rule.
Something to notice, though, when wondering whether a woman has a drinking problem is their tolerance. If you see a woman who can not only hold her alcohol but seems to need a significant amount in order to achieve a state of intoxication, she may have a drinking problem.
Are you wondering whether your drinking or the drinking of someone you love has become a problem? Usually it is noticeable after a certain point but some are able to catch themselves early on the path. Not every woman needs to go to the same depths that some others did; there is yet time to stop if you catch yourself early enough and respond appropriately.
Quiz: Signs of Alcoholism
Do You Have a Drinking Problem?
Are you wondering whether your drinking is a problem?
One of the easiest ways to determine whether you have a drinking problem is to look at the criteria outlined in the fifth edition of the DSM-V. Though they are the medical outline for diagnosing someone with an alcohol use disorder, they are a great baseline for determining problem alcohol use.
How Does Alcohol Abuse Affect Women’s Bodies?
The long term effects of alcohol use have on a person’s body are well-documented. A heavy drinking habit can have all kinds of physical, mental, and social side effects. Without a doubt, alcohol is capable of ruining lives.
Since women metabolize alcohol differently than men do, it seems obvious they face different health risks. Most alcoholic women drink far less than their male counterparts, but the damage can still be done.
Here are a few of the health risks that women face:
How Does Alcohol Use and Alcoholism Affect a Woman’s Brain?
Studies show that women may be at higher risk of alcohol-related brain damage than men. Some brain parts shrink much more in heavy-drinking women than in men.
What Are the Effects of Alcohol Use and Alcoholism on a Woman’s Liver?
Anyone who drinks faces a risk of liver damage. After all, the liver is the primary organ involved in processing alcohol. If a person drinks heavily, they put serious stress on their liver, which can lead to cancer or other diseases.
But, women develop liver disease over a much shorter period, even if they consume less alcohol. They’re also at a greater risk for alcoholic hepatitis and cirrhosis.
Does Alcohol Use or Alcoholism Cause Breast Cancer in Women?
While there is no single “cause” of breast cancer, women who report moderate to heavy alcohol consumption have a 15% higher risk of breast cancer. Data revealed that women who consume one drink or less per day do not show a higher risk.
What impact can alcohol have on pregnancy?
It’s common knowledge that pregnant women should avoid alcohol. Women who drink run the risk of hurting. their developing baby. If someone drinks while they are pregnant, the alcohol passes from the mother’s bloodstream into the baby’s bloodstream. This can cause brain damage, spinal damage, and a range of other issues in the unborn child.
How a Mom’s Alcoholism Affects Her Family
A parent’s drinking habit doesn’t just affect them. It also affects the lives of those around them.
Children know when something is “off” about their mom. Even if they’re too young to understand what alcohol is, they’re smarter than we give them credit for.
Typically, alcohol causes moms to act distant because they’re focused on their next drink. They usually have trouble living up to their duties as a mother.
Many adult children of alcoholics recall stories of having their mom show up drunk to pick them up at school. Some moms never helped their children with homework or had dinner with their families. These behaviors greatly increase the likelihood that you’ll pass your addiction onto your child.
At the same time, it’s just as dangerous for a mom to maintain a severe drinking habit while hiding it from her family. Many women who pull this off. They pack lunches, tuck their kids into bed, and do all of the things a good mom should.
While it’s beneficial for the child that they don’t see mom’s behavior, it’s still not good. If she is functioning and can provide significant attention while intoxicated, imagine what she could provide was she sober.
Getting Better: How Women Can Recover from Alcoholism
No matter how severe your drinking problem may be, it doesn’t have to be the end of the road. We’re here to help
We know that you might feel hopeless right now. But, it’s important to realize that plenty of people overcome their drinking habits. It takes dedication and hard work, but any woman struggling with alcoholism can get sober.
There are many ways for women to overcome this disease. Below, we’ll discuss a few of them.
For someone to get sober, they have to start by detoxifying. Alcohol detox is the process where a person stops drinking and allows their body to flush out the toxins.
We’ll be honest:
This process is notoriously uncomfortable. When a heavy drinker tries to quit, their body goes into withdrawal. They may experience any number of alcohol withdrawal symptoms, including nausea, vomiting, and tremors. In extreme cases, alcoholics can go into a coma from withdrawal.
That’s why it’s crucial that women avoid quitting cold turkey and detoxing at home. If you want to detox in a safe, comfortable manner, you should check into a professional detox facility.
What is Professional Detox?
Professional detox centers are facilities that help addicts get off drugs or alcohol. These facilities hire medical professionals to make the process as easy as possible. In a professional detox facility, addicts are monitored by doctors who ensure that they are safe throughout the entire process.
Some facilities, such as Women’s Recovery, take a medical detox approach. This is a treatment technique in which doctors assess each patient’s habit on an individual basis, and develop a personal detox schedule to help them wean off the booze. Medical detox helps to eliminate the risk of withdrawal complications.
Oftentimes, medical detox also involves medication. Doctors may prescribe Vivitrol or another anti-addiction drug to stabilize withdrawal symptoms. Such medications make the process a bit easier.
Is Alcohol Detox Different for Women Than Men?
As was pointed out above, women tend to metabolize alcohol at a faster rate than men. In other words, they’re able to flush it out of their bodies quicker. While this rule does not hold up across the board, it means that women can usually detox faster.
It’s important to stress that this is not always the case. There is a range of other factors that can impact the detox timeline. If a woman’s liver is extremely unhealthy, for example, it may take her body quite some time to expel all of the toxins.
Can You Die from Alcohol Withdrawals?
Yes. It’s entirely possible to die from withdrawals. However, this usually only happens to addicts who quit cold turkey at home. It can potentially send the body into a state of shock, which may lead to seizures or coma.
If you are planning to quit drinking, consult a doctor or call us for help.
How long does it take to withdraw from alcohol and get all of the toxins out of your system?
Everyone is different. We all process toxins at a different rate. It can take up to 10 days to fully detox. But, most people are able to do it in a week.
Here’s a sample timeline, to give you an idea of what to expect:
8 hours after last drink: Withdrawal symptoms begin. Typically, the first symptoms to appear are light tremors. This symptom is usually called “The Shakes.” They may occur even if the addict is weaning off of booze, and has less alcohol in their system than normal.
24 hours after last drink: Within the first day of detox, the patient will start to feel anxious and nauseous. They’ll experience strong cravings. They may not be able to sleep. These symptoms usually last for 4-7 days.
72 hours after last drink: Symptoms peak by the third day. At this point, the addict will likely experience vomiting and diarrhea. They’re likely to have strong headaches and heart palpitations. They must persevere through this stage because it only gets better from here.
120 hours and beyond: After 5 days, most symptoms will have subsided. The patient is likely to experience ongoing anxiety and depression. At this point, they should check into a rehab program where they can go through therapy to help them cope.
Factors that Affect the Timeline
Several factors can increase or decrease withdrawal time. Some of these factors include:
- Liver health
- Severity of addiction
- Length of addiction
- Other drugs in the system
Older folks tend to have a harder time detoxing. This is usually because they’re maintained their habit for much longer, and might have serious liver damage. If the liver is damaged, it’s difficult for the body to process all of the chemicals in it.
Addiction doesn’t end with detox. After detoxing, addicts still have a lot of work to do if they want to stay sober. In order to live a clean, healthy life, they must learn how to cope with stress without alcohol.
This transition is difficult for many women. It’s easy to walk out of detox and fall back into addictive behaviors immediately. But, alcohol rehab programs can help you prepare for your life as a sober person.
In rehab, patients have access to therapists and counselors that help them transition into sobriety. Addicts participate in one-on-one therapy, group therapy, and specialized counseling sessions that help them address their past mistakes and move forward in a positive direction.
There are a few different types of alcohol rehab programs. Each one is designed for a specific type of person. Depending on your lifestyle, responsibilities, and schedule, either of these might work well for you:
Inpatient programs are what most people think of when they think about rehab. These are the programs where patients live in the rehab facility while they work on getting sober. During the day, patients meet with therapists and recovery groups. At night, they relax, read, and share meals with other residents.
These programs work well for people who want to step away from their normal lives for a few weeks to get clean. Inpatient rehab provides women with the time and space to focus on themselves, without having to worry about work, school, or other responsibilities.
There are many fantastic inpatient rehab programs for women in Colorado.
Outpatient rehab programs are similar to inpatient programs. They provide the same resources and support. However, patients don’t live on-site in the treatment center. Instead, they report to the facility a few times a week for classes and therapy sessions.
These programs work well for people who can’t leave their lives behind. Single mothers, for example, may not be able to leave their children for rehab. In those cases, outpatient programs are a better option.
Alcohol Rehab for Co-Occurring Disorders
Addiction and mental illness go hand-and-hand. If you struggle with both conditions, you should seek support from specialists.
A lot of women struggle with mental health issues on top of addiction problems. Sometimes, mental illness is actually the cause of addictive behavior.
When someone suffers from addiction problems and a mental condition at the same time, they have what’s called a “co-occurring disorder.”
Some of the most common co-occurring disorders involve alcoholism mixed with:
These conditions can be difficult to treat. However, some rehab programs specialize in helping people with these illnesses overcome their problems. Women’s Recovery has an expert staff who is trained to treat both conditions simultaneously.
AA, SMART Recovery, and Addiction Groups
Twelve-step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous are free resources. These meetings help many addicts achieve sobriety. They demand nothing of you but a desire to stop drinking and a willingness to try something new.
AA uses the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous to help its members get sober. This system was developed in 1935 and has been massively successful. While it doesn’t work for everyone, many people credit the Steps for their sobriety.
In AA meetings, addicts come together to talk about addiction. They listen to each other’s stories and bond over their shared experience. This group provides the community and sense of connection that many addicts seek.
Oftentimes, AA works best after an addict has finished rehab. That way, they have the wherewithal to focus and listen during meetings. Without attending rehab first, some people find it difficult to work through the Twelve Steps.
There are many great AA meetings for women in Colorado. There are meetings in Denver, Dillon, Boulder, and nearly every other city in the state. These meetings are 100% free and most of them are open to the public.
SMART Recovery is a non-religious sobriety group. While AA isn’t religious, there are a lot of spiritual discussions. Some people avoid Anonymous programs because of this.
But, you shouldn’t avoid seeking support because the spiritual discussions in AA make you feel uncomfortable. Instead, you should check out a SMART meeting. This organization takes a completely different approach to sobriety. It works well for a lot of people.
If you’re newly sober and looking for the best group, consider trying both. Check out a few meetings to see which one you like better.
Women’s Recovery: Providing Alcoholic Women with Professional Support
If you are concerned about your drinking habits, contact us. Addressing the problem will prevent it from growing worse.
Alcoholism doesn’t have to be your life. If you’re reading this, there’s still hope. Detox, rehab, and support meetings can all put you on a better path.