By: Natasha Archary
With an increase in the consumption of alcohol in women, one can’t help but question why more women are turning to booze today. It can be said that with the pressures on women to succeed in every area of their lives, many lean towards that glass of red as a coping mechanism.
Gone are the days where a woman’s role was solely, “stay-at-home-mom”. With the tables turning and more women taking on multiple roles – business woman, mother, wife, student – more women are admitting that it’s far from easy.
Studies suggest that women are emotional drinkers.
“Dinner’s not ready yet, the kids are losing their minds over who’s turn it is to pick a movie, you have an assignment due tomorrow and it’s no where near complete. Your boss thinks you should be doing more, you’re overdrawn on your account, you’re late on payments, the dog is sick, you haven’t visited your parents in a month and you suspect your partner may be cheating.”
The mind of a woman. With all of this and more going on up there, searching for that pause button is as simple as reaching for the fridge and pouring a glass of much needed “mommy-juice.” And like magic, it’s like the reset button has been hit and normalcy returns.
Alcoholism vs Occasional drinkers
There is a difference however between alcohol dependency and being an occasional drinker. According to Rhys Evans, MD, ALCO-Safe, when you start making excuses for your drinking patterns, behaviour and habits that’s the first red flag that you may have a problem. When your alcohol intake increases in volume per week and you’re spending money you don’t have on your next bottle, this is usually a sign that you need help.
ALCO-safe is the major supplier of quality electronic breath alcohol detectors and drug detection kits in South Africa. The organisation can help facilitate intervention for friends and family members who may be struggling with alcoholism. Offering intermediary services, working with corporates to include workplace programmes to help employees overcome addiction.
The average person should limit alcoholic drinks to one an hour. This is subject to body mass composition but if we were to make an example using a healthy adult between the ages of 25-35, the liver would be able to break down the alcohol sufficiently in this hour.
The safe limit is: one 340ml of 5% beer or 130ml of 12% wine.
Limiting alcohol consumption to one drink an hour, means there’s a higher chance of not being above the legal alcohol limit. This does not however mean you should be driving after waiting an hour.
How alcohol affects women vs men
A woman’s hormones are a big influence in how alcohol affects women vs men. Hormonal fluctuations can leave women feeling low or depressed and seeking some respite at the end of a bottle.
“Alcoholics look for happiness at the end of the bottle, but the end of the bottle never comes.”
Overall, men are still more likely to binge drink than women. But this may not be true if we were to consider younger adults. Women born, between 1991 and 2000 drink as much as their male counterparts, according to epidemiologists.
According to scientists, women produce smaller amounts of alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH), an enzyme which breaks down alcohol in the body.
Without getting too technical, fat retains alcohol and water disperses it. Because women generally have a higher fat ratio compared to men (it’s a general study with average body weight and types) and lower water levels in the body, women experience alcohol intoxication far differently to men.
We’ll touch on other risks and dangers associated with alcohol abuse in women soon, so be sure to watch for Part 2.