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How Alcohol Affects Women

Physical Effects of Alcohol Abuse in Women

Women’s bodies are more susceptible to the damaging effects of alcohol abuse. For example, alcohol-related liver disease and brain damage affects women more quickly, and is triggered by lower doses of alcohol than in men. 

Psychological Effects of Alcohol Abuse in Women


Women are more likely to experience shame and stigma than men. This can make them less likely to speak out about their addiction problems. This is particularly true if they have children, because they may be afraid of being labelled as a bad mother.


Women suffering alcohol addiction problems experience higher rates of depression and anxiety, at four times the rate of the general population. In many cases, these psychological symptoms are relieved once the patient is treated for addiction problems.

Self-Harm and Suicide

Women suffering alcohol addiction problems are more likely to self harm, particularly those aged 20 to 29. According to some research, as many as 50% of young women with alcohol problems may attempt suicide.


Women suffering addiction problems are more likely to have experienced abuse, assault and other traumatic experiences.

Alcohol Addiction and Eating Disorders

Addicted people are far more likely to experience eating disorders than the general population. Eating disorders share some characteristics with addiction, such as impaired impulse control and experience of cravings. In some cases, an eating disorder can be masked by an addiction problem, and will emerge once the addiction problem is treated.

Alcohol Addiction often Overlaps with Drug Addiction

Women suffering from alcohol addiction may also experience a problematic relationship with other drugs.

Residential Rehab for Addicted Women

Residential rehab is often the best treatment option for women suffering from alcohol addiction problems. This is because residential rehab is the most effective type of treatment for co-occurring psychological issues such as anxiety and depression.

It is also a good option for women in emotionally or physically abusive relationships because it removes them from the influence of their partner. It also minimises the exposure to relapse triggers, such as walking past the shop you always buy alcohol in. This is very beneficial during the early stages of recovery, when the patient may be more susceptible to environmental triggers.

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Last updated & clinically assessed 27 February, 2020