Women and Alcohol – The Downside

women and alcohol women walking on beach

Activities other than drinking are vital to women’s friendships – take a walk or see a movie together!

The most recent government data show that from 2019 to 2020, rates of alcohol-induced deaths for females “increased across all age groups for those aged 25 and over.” According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), nearly half of adult women report drinking alcohol. 13% of adult women and 18% of women of child-bearing age binge drink. Females in their teens and early twenties drink/binge more than their male counterparts. The gender gap is closing for women of all ages, and the impact of COVID-19 amplified drinking patterns and mental health concerns in its aftermath. Given that excessive alcohol use is associated with more than 27,000 deaths among women each year, the rise in alcohol consumption among women and girls is a concerning trend.


If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, eating disorders, or co-occurring mental health conditions, don’t wait to change your life – click the link below and get in touch today. Women’s beds available – 616.202.3326


Women and Alcohol – the Downside

Women have unique issues with substance use that make them more vulnerable to the effects of alcohol. Notably, 15% of women report they have used illicit drugs or misused prescription drugs as well. Drugs and alcohol uniquely impact a woman’s hormones, menstrual cycle, fertility, pregnancy, and menopause. And women suffer the health consequences of alcohol more quickly than men (even with lower levels of consumption).


Although men tend to drink more than women, biological differences in body structure and chemistry cause most women to absorb more alcohol than men and metabolize it more slowly, the effects of alcohol occur more quickly and last longer for women. Hence, women are more susceptible to the adverse effects of alcohol than men.


Unique Health Risks – Women and Alcohol

Women are uniquely impacted by diseases, injuries and harms associated with alcohol:

Cognitive Decline

Shrinkage of the brain and cognitive decline develop more quickly in women than men.

Liver Disease

Women have a higher risk of cirrhosis and other liver diseases than men.

Heart Disease

In women, the risk of damage to the heart muscle occurs at lower levels of alcohol consumption and over fewer years than men.


Alcohol is associated with mouth, throat, esophagus, liver and colon cancer. In women there is an added risk of breast cancer (even at low levels of alcohol use).


Excessive alcohol use increases the risk of infertility, fetal alcohol syndrome, miscarriage, stillbirth, premature delivery and sudden infant death syndrome. There is no know safe amount of alcohol use during pregnancy.

Sexual and Domestic Violence

According to the CDC, “Excessive alcohol use, particularly binge drinking, is a major contributing factor to sexual violence. Changes in alcohol-related policies can reduce sexual violence in communities.”

Substance Use Disorder

Women have a greater risk for hangovers and blackouts. Similarly, women progress more quickly than men from first using alcohol to developing an addiction, a phenomenon known as telescoping.



Gender Responsive Treatment

Why are women drinking more? To cope, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). In fact, women are more likely to drink to. And those who drink to cope have a higher risk of developing a substance use disorder – a double whammy for women.


Having gender-responsive groups in treatment allows us to craft evidence-based programming tailored to the emotional, relational, and psychological needs of women. We also have gender specific outings for our female patients. Because they reside together, there is time for connection and friendships to develop. This increases engagement in treatment, and allows us to quickly uncover the underlying causes of substance misuse and disorder.

Rae Green, JD, LPC, CAADC, Founder Sanford Behavioral Health


At Sanford Behavioral Health, we understand that each person who comes through the door has needs, obstacles, priorities, and strengths that are unique to them. The female gendered residents and their therapists work collaboratively to establish an individualized plan for treatment and beyond. Every recovery journey is special.  We have a deep level of respect for the diversity in perspectives, experiences and ideals about sobriety and health. We want our female gendered clients to be able to focus on issues that are akin to their recovery needs and journey.


If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, eating disorders, or co-occurring mental health conditions, don’t wait to change your life – click the link below and get in touch today. Women’s beds available – don’t wait to change your life for the better.

Sanford Behavioral Health is licensed and accredited as an addiction, eating disorder, and co-occurring mental health treatment facility, serving all of Michigan and beyond. Each of Sanford’s facilities in Greater Grand Rapids is carefully and diligently crafted to create a welcoming and comforting environment. Sanford is led by a psychiatrist-led team of medical, clinical, and support personnel providing medication-assisted, evidenced-based treatment to residential, outpatient, and telehealth patients. For more information, visit www.sanfordbehavioralhealth.com.