Despite the advancements toward gender equality, the biological differences between women and men remain. Alcohol metabolizes more quickly in a woman’s body than in a man’s. Due to this, males can typically handle greater amounts of alcohol than their female counterparts. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism’s (NIAAA) definition of binge drinking outlines different numbers of drinks for women and men: four drinks of alcohol in a woman’s body vs. five drinks on the same occasion for men.
When considering the chances of developing an alcohol use disorder, the NIAAA established a baseline for low-risk drinking. These rates also allow for different amounts of alcohol for men and women. Women should have no more than three drinks per day and no more than seven drinks per week. Alternatively, men should have no more than four drinks in a single day and no more than 14 drinks per week. Regularly exceeding these suggestions might indicate the need for a professional alcohol addiction treatment program.
If you or a loved one need help and reside in Colorado, get the help you need at Women’s Recovery. We provide outpatient addiction treatment in Denver and Summit County. Please contact Women’s Recovery today at 833.754.0554 to learn more about our services.
How Alcohol Affects the Body
Blood Alcohol Concentration
The amount of alcohol in a woman or man’s system is calculated as their Blood Alcohol Concentration level, or BAC. BAC is commonly known due to the legal limit to be charged with driving under the influence, a national standard of 0.08 BAC. BAC means the concentration of alcohol in a woman’s bloodstream. The more a woman drinks in a shorter period of time, the higher her BAC will be. The effects are as follows:
- 0.10 – 0.12 BAC results in poor judgment and impaired motor function. Common effects include slurred speech, slower visual reaction time, impaired hearing, and difficulties with thought processes. In a woman, this takes roughly three drinks.
- 0.13 – 0.15 BAC causes severely flawed judgment capabilities, perception, and motor skills. Reaction time noticeably slows, vision blurs, loss of balance occurs, and speech is obviously slurred. Vomiting often occurs at this BAC level. Most women require four drinks to get this BAC.
- 0.16 – 0.19 BAC leads to incapacitation in most drinkers. Those who don’t often drink heavily may pass out at this point. Nausea is almost constant, and reaction time, vision, balance, and motor skills reach extremely dangerous levels of impairment. On average, a woman requires five drinks to get this BAC.
How Long Is Alcohol in a Woman’s Body When She Drinks?
The length of time alcohol stays in your system (blood, breath, and urine) after drinking depends on a variety of factors:
- Amount of time since last drink
- Type of alcohol consumed
- The amount that is eaten before, during, or after drinking
- Types of medications in your system
- Health conditions
Women have more fat in their bodies which helps alcohol remain in a woman’s system for longer periods of time. That time lengthens depending on the other factors listed above. Since women have more fat in their bodies, heavier women retain alcohol for even longer. If a woman drinks hard alcohol, the higher alcohol concentration results in it remaining in her system for more time.
Alcohol in the Body Can Lead to Long-Term Health Consequences
Alcohol may not remain in a woman’s blood, urine, and breath for an extended period of time like some other drugs, such as marijuana. However, heavy alcohol use over an extended period significantly impacts her body. Alcohol is metabolized in the liver, and excessive alcohol processing results in fat buildup in the liver. When alcohol consumption does not slow, the fat on a woman’s liver has no opportunity to break down. A fatty liver may result in dangerous health complications such as alcoholic hepatitis or fibrosis. Over time, scar tissue begins to build upon the liver, known as cirrhosis, which impacts the liver’s functional capabilities and results in liver deterioration. Liver diseases are one of the leading causes of death in the United States.
Alcohol Addiction Treatment Offers Hope
Women who are suffering from alcoholism have hope. You should never attempt to recover from an alcohol addiction on your own. Doing so can be very dangerous, resulting in severe withdrawal symptoms that may even become fatal. If you are an alcoholic, you have options for treatment that can help you stop drinking. Not only that, but they can provide you with the support you need to never return to that way of living. It is important to know what those options are.
Generally, a professional alcohol addiction treatment program will consist of the following stages:
- Alcohol detox
- Rehab treatment – either inpatient, outpatient, or both
Alcohol detoxification allows you to remove all alcohol from your system and receive treatment for your withdrawal symptoms. Detox usually includes staying in an inpatient facility until the worst of withdrawal is over. This can take up to a week to ten days, or even longer in some cases. Patients are given medications (such as Vivitrol) to help alleviate their symptoms and often receive holistic treatments for withdrawals.
Alcohol rehab is the next step in recovery for anyone struggling with alcoholism. Depending on the severity, treatment may be residential or outpatient. Residential treatment programs require the individual to reside in a treatment center in a highly structured and monitored environment. Outpatient treatment offers greater flexibility and allows a person to attend to limited obligations outside of treatment.
Patients receive many different types of evidence-based therapy and holistic treatments during rehab. This includes group therapy, individual therapy, and family therapy sessions. The patient’s treatment is tailored according to her specific needs. For many women, alcoholism can be the result of the presence of a co-occurring disorder. This refers to a mental health issue that has contributed to the addiction to alcohol, such as bipolar disorder, anxiety disorder, PTSD, or depression.
Aftercare is the supportive program provided after treatment is completed. It usually consists of meetings, such as 12-step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous, but can also include planned sober activities and outings with alumni from the treatment program.
Get Help Today at Women’s Recovery
If you are caught in the cycle of alcohol addiction, please do not put off getting the help you need to recover. We can provide you with the support you need here at Women’s Recovery.
We can assist you in finding a quality detox program, and we also provide Vivitrol services at our facility. Our outpatient program is among the best in the state, and we also offer a housing option that may meet your needs. Alcoholism does not have to continue to be an active part of your life.