Friday, April 30, 2010

SISTERHOUSE: The Effect of Alcohol on Women

By Glenance Green

    Did you know that alcohol is the most commonly abused substance in the United States of America? According to the Harvard Mental Health Letter, about 7 to 12 percent of women in the United States abuse alcohol. This statistic has become such an alarming trend because women tend to develop a dependency to alcohol more quickly than men.

    There are several biological factors that make women more vulnerable to the effects of alcohol. An overwhelming factor is that women tend to weigh less than men because a woman’s body contains less water and more fatty tissue than a man’s (Harvard Mental Health Letter). This is instrumental to dependency because fat will retain alcohol while water dilutes it; therefore, the woman’s organs are more apt to sustain greater exposure.

    In addition, the Harvard Mental Health Letter describes the second biological factor making women more vulnerable to the effects of alcohol as women having lower levels
of enzymes that break alcohol down in the stomach and liver and as a result, women absorb more alcohol into the bloodstream.

    Over the decades, there have been a myriad of scientific studies of alcohol dependence in both men and women. One of the largest, most important studies was federally conducted by Combined Pharmacotherapies and Behavioral Interventions (COMBINE). This study concluded that drug therapy and a specialized behavioral therapy helped patients of both sexes abstain from drinking. This is imperative to the SISTERHOUSE community because we espouse a holistic approach to recovery and work with a variety of different human service agencies, medical service providers and other institutions to facilitate women’s access to the tools necessary for a successful recovery process.

To receive more information on SISTERHOUSE’s services for women and/or volunteer opportunities, please call 773/626-0525.

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