Women And Alcoholism

Andrew Sullivan —  Jan 10 2014 @ 4:00pm

In discussing her experiences with rehab, Anna David contends that committing to getting help is harder for women:

[T]he way women respond to alcohol is fundamentally different than the way men do. “Women metabolize alcohol differently than men,” says Dirk Hanson, who wrote about the need for gender-specific treatment programs for Scientific American. “With less water and more fatty tissue in their bodies, blood alcohol levels are higher for women than for men. Women get drunk faster and have heavier hangovers.”

And yet it’s harder for women to pursue treatment than it is for men. Hanson cites a National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) book which says that for women with small children, “lack of childcare is a serious obstacle to seeking treatment … For some women, fear of losing their children to the child custody system upon admission that they have a problem makes them apprehensive about entering treatment.” And that’s not the only obstacle. “Women are stigmatized,” says Dr. Paul Hokemeyer, a marriage and family therapist in New York. “Because they breathe in the dominant cultural message that tells them they need to be ‘pretty and perfect,’ women often internalize enormous guilt and shame about their condition.”