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Alcohol and Women

What is at-risk drinking?
Does alcohol affect women differently than men?
What health risks are associated with at-risk drinking?
How does drinking alcohol cause birth defects?
How much alcohol is safe to drink during pregnancy?
What is alcohol abuse?
What is alcohol dependence?
How can I get help if I think I have a drinking problem?
What treatment is available for people who have a…
What resources are available to people seeking help…<

What is at-risk drinking?

  • For women, at-risk drinking mean drinking more than seven drinks in 1 week
  • At-risk drink includes binge drinking
    • Which means drinking more than 3 drinks on one occasion
  • One drink is defined as:
    • One 12 oz. can of beer
    • One 1.5 oz. mixed drink
    • Or one 5 oz. glass of wine

Does alcohol affect women differently than men?

  • Yes
  • When a man and woman drink the same amount of alcohol
    • Less alcohol circulates in the man’s body
    • Men weigh more and have more water in their bodies
      • This dilutes the alcohol concentration
    • Stomach chemicals that break down alcohol are more active in men
  • Alcohol-related problems may progress more quickly in women

What health risks are associated with at-risk drinking?

  • Health risks associated with at-risk drinking include the following:
    • Birth defects
    • Nutritional deficiencies
    • Injuries
    • Psychiatric problems, such as depression and anxiety
    • Long-lasting diseases, including cirrhosis and other liver diseases
    • Digestive system disorders, such as inflammation of the stomach and pancreas
    • Nervous system disorders include:
      • Dementia and stroke
      • Heart disease
      • And certain types of cancer
  • In addition to these health risks, alcohol plays a major role in:
    • Domestic violence, sexual assaults, and child abuse
  • Excessive use, especially binge drinking, can affect your judgment and decisions
  • You may be more likely to have unprotected sex or sex with multiple partners

How does drinking alcohol cause birth defects?

  • Drinking alcohol during pregnancy is a leading cause of birth defects
  • Alcohol can affect a baby throughout pregnancy including:
    • The first weeks of pregnancy, before many women even know they are pregnant
  • “Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders” describes different effects that can occur in the fetus when a woman drinks during pregnancy
  • These effects may include:
    • Physical
    • Mental
    • Behavioral
    • And learning disabilities that can last a lifetime
  • Fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) is the most severe disorder
  • Women at high risk of giving birth to a child with FAS include:
    • Those who drink heavily during pregnancy
    • Those who continue to drink heavily throughout pregnancy

How much alcohol is safe to drink during pregnancy?

  • There is no established safe level of alcohol use during pregnancy
  • If you are planning to become pregnant, do not drink alcohol
  • If you are pregnant and drank alcohol before you knew you were pregnant
    • You can reduce the risk of further harm to the baby by stopping drinking

What is alcohol abuse?

  • A person who abuses alcohol has repeated problems related to her use of alcohol
  • These problems include:
  • Work
  • Relationship
  • Family issues
  • Drunk-driving arrests and car crashes
  • Or medical problems caused by alcohol

What is alcohol dependence?

  • Alcohol dependence is also known as alcoholism
  • Alcoholism is a disease with three or more of the following signs and symptoms:
    • Tolerance
      • The need to drink greater amounts of alcohol to get “high”
      • Or not having the same effect with continued use of the same amount
  • Alcohol withdrawal symptoms include:
    • Nausea, sweating, shakiness, and anxiety after stopping drinking
    • Drinking larger amounts of alcohol or over a longer period
    • Desire or unsuccessful attempts to cut down or control drinking
    • Spending a great deal of time drinking or recovering from drinking
    • Avoiding important social, work, or recreational activities because of drinking
    • Continuing to drink despite knowing that you have a drinking problem

How can I get help if I think I have a drinking problem?

  • The first step is the hardest for most people
  • A good first step is to talk to your health care provider
  • Your state or local health department should have a list of resources for you to contact

What treatment is available for people who have a…

  • Although alcohol dependence cannot be cured, it can be managed with success
  • Treatments may include:
    • Medication
    • Counseling
    • Group therapy
    • And specialized treatment programs

What resources are available to people seeking help…

  • The following organizations offer educational materials and treatment information:
    • Alcoholics Anonymous
      • PO Box 459
      • New York, NY 10163
      • (212) 870-3400
      • Www.aa.org
    • National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
      • 5635 Fishers Lane, MSC 9304
      • Bethesda, MD 20892-9304
      • (301) 443-3860
      • E-mail: niaaweb-r@exchange.nih.gov
      • Www.niaaa.nih.gov
    • National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc
      • 244 East 58th Street 4th Floor
      • New York, NY 10022
      • (212) 269-7797
      • Fax: (212) 269-7510
      • E-mail: national@ncadd.org
      • Www.ncadd.org
      • For information and referral: 800/NCA-CALL
    • National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
      • 900 17th Street, NW, Suite 910
      • Washington, DC 20006
      • 800) 666-6327 or (202) 785-4585
      • Fax: (202) 466-6456
      • E-mail: info@nofas.org
      • Www.nofas.org
    • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
      • SAMHSA?s Health Information Network
      • PO Box 2345
      • Rockville, MD 20847-2345
      • (877) 726-4727
      • TTY: (800) 487-4889
      • Fax: (240) 221-4292
      • Www.samhsa.gov/home

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