Health and Fitness

Alcohol and women

Scientific literature shows us that the use of psychoactive substances, and in particular with regard to alcohol, is not the same between men and women.

While epidemiological studies clearly show a difference in terms of consumption (men generally consume larger quantities than women), the analysis of the literature highlights specific gender features that are articulated according to biological and social dimensions. and psychological.

Very recently, researchers from Peking University in China published in “the Journal of Women’s Health” a review of 24 studies, carried out on different continents, to compare the risk of death of excessive alcohol consumers according to their gender.

The risk of all-cause mortality is multiplied by 1.5 for a woman consuming 75g of alcohol daily (about 7 standard drinks) compared to a man having the same consumption. The multiplying factor even reaches 2.5 to the detriment of the fairer sex for larger drinks, of the order of 10 standard doses per day, or 100g of alcohol daily.

Women are therefore more vulnerable to alcohol and represent a population at greater risk.

Indeed, biologically, they react faster and more intensely to the effects of alcohol than men. For the same amount of alcohol ingested, the blood alcohol level is higher in women (difference in relation to weight, amount of water in the body, and amount of alcohol dehydrogenase).

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But these are not the only differences between men and women.

From a social standpoint, the consumption of alcohol is much less well accepted among women than among men. Indeed, the woman who drinks is more quickly stigmatized than the man who drinks. This creates a feeling of shame sometimes very intense, accompanied by often lower self-esteem.

Finally, on a psychological level, for a large part of them, anxiety, depression, and loneliness are factors that contribute to consumption. In 2003, Zilberman et al. have established in a systematic review of the literature that women who have problematic alcohol use more frequently present with anxiety-depressive disorders.

Alcoholism is a health problem. A problem that is common to women and men. However, condemning stares can lead to guilt and shame in the alcoholic, which results in them not seeking help. Alcoholic women feel judged harshly for being neither a good mother, nor a good wife, nor a good housewife. They are suspected of deviating from the roles and statuses traditionally assigned to women.

For all these reasons, women wait longer before asking for help and are more discreet in traditional help centers. It is therefore essential to offer them a diversified range of care, taking into account all their specificities.

Wang C, Xue H, Wang Q, Hao Y, Li D, Gu D, Huang J. Effect of Drinking on All-Cause Mortality in Women Compared with Men: A Meta-Analysis. J Women’s Health (Larchmt). 2014 Mar 10.

Zilberman ML, Tavares H, Blume SB, el-Guebaly N. Substance use disorders: sex differences and psychiatric comorbidities. Can J Psychiatry. 2003 Feb; 48 (1): 5-13.(The risk of all-cause mortality is multiplied by 1.5 for a woman consuming 75g of alcohol daily)

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