Women and drinking

When women start to think they may have an alcohol or drug problem, they may ask, how could this happen to me?  Usually this question arises after many difficult experiences including:  a DUI, accidents or physical injuries, blackouts, unwanted sexual encounters including rape, problems at work, hangovers, getting sick a lot, shame, covering up etc. As is commonly known, alcohol and drug problems are connected with a defense mechanism called denial–the ability to rationalize reality away, even after many negative consequences that are clearly related to using substances.

Women are the fastest growing segment of substance abusers in the US and substance problems in women are not recognized or treated as they should be. In addition all drugs including alcohol have more negative consequences to  women’s bodies than to men’s. Women tend to experience more social disapproval for their drinking problems and alcoholic women are more stigmatized than men.  Women with substance abuse problems are more likely than men to have been traumatized in their life and to have higher rates of co-occuring psychiatric problems.

How do you know if you have a problem? And where do you get help? How can you wake up from denial—(it’s not so bad, I can stop any time, no one notices)? How can you learn to cope with the demons of shame and self-loathing—(What is wrong with me? why can’t I just have a few  like everyone else, what happened  during my black-out.)?

Most people have heard about Alcoholic’s Anonymous, and many of you reading this may have already tried it.

To read more go to Women and AA.

Phyllis Klein, LCSW


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