Female alcoholism in Russia and its consequences

Female alcoholism in Russia has recently become a widespread phenomenon and has become considerably younger: according to statistics, 70% of women start drinking alcohol before the age of 18. The doses of alcohol consumption increase around the age of 30-45 years, when a person leads an already conscious life. Most often, female alcoholism begins at this time, due to distress and mental suffering. Female dependence and total dependence on alcohol develop much more quickly than in men. Regular drinking, even if not in large quantities, is the first signal of concern. Female alcoholism develops differently than male alcoholism. Men tend to drink in company. Women most often become dependent on alcohol with their husbands, rarely with their girlfriends. In addition, women more often drink in secret, alone. Most addiction specialists believe that women become addicted to alcohol much more quickly than men. And it is more difficult to treat women. Typically, the first stage of women's alcoholism, which lasts three to four years, involves drinking non-alcoholic beverages. And already at this stage, the woman, having started drinking, cannot stop. The woman is drawn into alcoholism on an emotional and psychological basis. When alcoholic beverages enter the body (or more precisely the brain) in small quantities, they affect the neurotransmitter system, resulting in a feeling of relaxation, calm and euphoria. It is this effect that, in most cases, attracts women to alcohol - an opportunity to relax, to distract themselves from problems. Being more mentally flexible, women find a skillful balance between the activation of the brain by alcohol and the oppression, that is, between the doses.

If we address the causes of female alcoholism, they can be divided into two types: physical and psychological.

The physical ones include:

1-less muscle mass - stronger intoxication ;
2-less water in the body - higher alcohol concentration;
3-increased absorption of ethanol (this is influenced by the hormonal characteristics of the female body);
4-lower doses are needed to achieve an antidepressant effect - the illusion of the safety of alcohol consumption is created.

Psychological reasons include:

The great importance of society and social factors - a woman is forced to behave according to her role, often burdened with an excessive workload. For example, it is frowned upon to show weaknesses in modern society, and to meet the demands of society, women seek easy ways to relax;
Judgment and aversion to women who drink lead to the fact that excessive drinking by women is hidden, its course is aggravated by the stress of the need to hide their addiction and this leads to increased alcohol consumption ;
high levels of stress in women in general;
Women's emotional predisposition to release stress without the intervention of outsiders (hence sitting exclusively with close friends for a "glass of tea", but not going to the doctor).


Statistics are also inexorable. The critical threshold for alcohol risk in women is 200-300 ml of beer or 80-90 ml of wine per day or more than 5 times per week.

While in men, chronic alcoholism (first or second stage) develops after 6 to 12 months of daily consumption, in women, 3 to 6 months are sufficient. Women are more frequently prone to binge drinking - about 60% of men and 82% of women are prone to binge drinking.

It is estimated that more than 15% of women in Russia suffer from chronic alcoholism, but it is unlikely that their relatives know about it.

It is easier for women to get drunk for neurophysiological reasons - neurons that have 8 times more surface area than those of men respond to emotional reactions, e.g. to sadness, grief, bad mood. Naturally, it is very easy to fall into depression with such a large number of active neurons. And it is precisely this property of the female brain tissue that causes the early transition from alcoholism to the chronic stage. The moral decline of alcoholic women develops 3 to 5 times faster than that of men. 

Symptoms and signs of female alcoholism

What can and should alert a woman or her loved ones to possible alcoholism?

The daily (or somewhat less frequent) need to relieve stress with alcohol - usually beer or wine. The more often a woman drinks, the faster she develops a tolerance to small doses of alcohol, which reduces the intensity of the antidepressant effects. This leads to higher doses of alcohol, but at higher doses, alcohol inhibits the production of pleasure hormones, a race to the top begins. In women, the path to alcohol dependence usually begins with drinking - a bottle of beer after work, a martini with girlfriends at the coffee shop;
- Women's attempts to hide their cravings (or already formed cravings) for alcohol;
- Lack of critical attitude towards their own drunken behavior;
- Excuses and attempts to find a more or less acceptable reason for drinking.

If there is at least one of the above signs, it is worth trying to see the symptoms of the stages of alcoholism. It should be said that alcoholism in women does not differ from alcoholism in men in terms of stages, but there are certain prerequisites for the signs of the stages to be alerted earlier.

The woman herself will not realize how her addiction started. She will not pay attention to it, and then she may be afraid to admit it to her loved ones because she will be ashamed. There are a number of characteristics of female alcoholism in which the patient should be taken to a doctor and the problem addressed immediately. All the responsibility falls on the woman's family. At the first sign of female alcoholism, treatment and psychological support should be started immediately. It is very rare for a woman to admit to her alcohol dependence. Symptoms of female alcoholism include:

1- The urge to drink for no particular reason and regardless of the type of alcohol. Patients look for any reason to drink alcohol.
2- Denial and non-acceptance by the woman of the fact of alcohol abuse, strong reaction to remarks.
3- Doses of alcoholic beverages increase over time, the woman gets drunk more slowly from small doses of alcohol.
4- Loss of appetite and refusal of snacks while drinking an alcoholic beverage.
5- Fine hand tremors, puffier face, bags under the eyes, enlargement of the abdomen due to cirrhosis of the liver.
6- Apathy, loss of interest in everything around you and your loved ones. Proximity and socialization with people who actively drink.
7- Rude, harsh behavior, cruelty to loved ones and relatives.
8- Slow response, diminished intellectual capacity.
9- Patient appears less often at work, may leave home to buy alcohol.
10- Drinking alcoholic beverages alone.

The stages of alcoholism

Developing step by step, alcoholism takes a person from the stage of minimal dependence and small dose to the total loss of self-control during the consumption of alcohol, disintegration of the personality, the development of somatic pathology.

In the first stage (we are talking specifically about the already formed alcoholism, i.e. alcohol dependence), a person loses control over the amount of alcohol, i.e. what people call "does not know the standards". Intoxication - usually pronounced - accompanies each episode of alcohol consumption. At this point, there are no psychoneurological disorders, a minimal criticality is preserved, and yet, realizing the seriousness of the situation, few women are able to say to themselves at this time - I drink.

The second stage is characterized by the appearance of the withdrawal syndrome, the hangover. Significant changes have occurred in the body, tolerance to ethanol has increased, and now it takes a larger dose to achieve the usual intoxication with its consequences. The higher the dose of alcohol, the higher the acetaldehyde intoxication, the more severe the consequences of intoxication. It is at this stage that the alcoholic woman takes on her typical appearance - puffy face, slanted eyes, swollen lips, hormonal changes begin, fatty tissues melt rapidly.

And finally, in the third stage, almost everything becomes a fixation on alcohol: from emotions to physiological needs. A typical sign of the third stage is excessive drinking.

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Consequences of female alcoholism

The negative impact of wine on offspring has been known since ancient times. Long before our time, it was found that people who drink often have stillborn babies and miscarriages. If a child is born alive, it is not uncommon for it to suffer from stunted growth and mental disability. At the end of the last century, the French physician Demme, studying the offspring of alcoholic families, found that nearly 50% of their children died in infancy, the remaining 10% suffered from epilepsy and dropsy, 12% became idiots and only 10% were healthy. It is no coincidence that the laws of ancient Greece and Rome forbade young men to drink alcohol. A drunken husband was forbidden to approach his wife. A law was issued regarding the inadmissibility of wine consumption by newlyweds. In Russia, too, it was long considered a bad sign to drink wine at one's own wedding.

The state of intoxication at the time of conception can have a very negative impact on the health of the unborn child, because alcohol is dangerous not only for the maturation of germ cells, but it can play a fatal role at the time of fertilization is quite full (normal) germ cells. And the intensity of the harmful effects of alcohol at the time of conception is unpredictable: there may be both minor disorders and serious organic damage to various organs and tissues of the unborn child. Doctors define the period from conception to three months of pregnancy as a critical time in the development of the fetus, as this is the time of intensive organ donation and tissue formation. Alcohol consumption has a disfiguring effect on the fetus, and the damage will be greater the earlier in the critical period the alcohol consumption occurs.

In the medical literature, a special term has emerged to describe a set of defects in children caused by the adverse effects of alcohol during intrauterine development: fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS), or alcoholic fetopathy syndrome. FAS is characterized by congenital abnormalities of the heart, external genitalia, central nervous system dysfunction, low birth weight, growth and developmental delays of the child. Children with alcoholic fetopathy syndrome have characteristic facial features: small head, peculiar face, narrow eyes, specific eyelid fold, thin upper lip.
Drinking alcoholic beverages is dangerous throughout pregnancy because alcohol easily enters the blood vessels that feed the fetus through the placenta. Exposure to alcohol in the later months of pregnancy results in prematurity, low birth weight, stillbirth and malformations. Female alcoholism often manifests itself as an inability to breastfeed children. According to expert observations, this defect occurs in 30-40% of women who regularly drink alcohol. Breastfeeding mothers must remember that alcohol has an extremely harmful effect on the infant's body and, especially, on the nervous system. Even small doses of alcohol, which enter the baby's body through breast milk, can cause severe damage to the central nervous system and, in some cases, have irreversible consequences. The child under the influence of alcohol becomes restless and sleeps poorly, and may suffer from seizures and later mental retardation. If the nursing mother suffers from female alcoholism and the infant ingests alcohol on a regular basis, in addition to the above complications, the child may develop "infant alcohol dependence syndrome". A woman should not drink a single gram of alcohol until the day the baby is weaned. There should be no exceptions.

Why is the problem of female alcoholism so alarming to physicians and other professionals? First, because of the role of the woman - mother, wife. The alcoholic woman is not able to fully perform these basic feminine functions. In addition, alcoholism in women has a detrimental effect on her family, her children, her loved ones and her social environment.

Female alcoholism causes premature aging. A woman who drinks at age 30 usually looks older, while an alcoholic woman becomes an old woman by age 40. Alcohol has a merciless effect on women's bodies: early aging, loss of reproductive function, damage to the brain, pancreas and liver.

Female alcoholism and heredity

There is no doubt about the inheritance of mental inferiority of the parents of alcoholics. Statistical and genetic studies have proven that alcoholism itself is not genetically transmitted, only the propensity to alcoholism is transmitted, resulting from the character traits inherited from parents. And to be an alcoholic or not - this question is determined by the concrete life situation, that is, the conditions of the external environment.
The decisive role in the development of alcohol consumption in children of alcoholics is played by the bad examples of parents, by the environment of alcohol consumption in the family home. When an authoritative family member, such as a grandfather, convincingly denounces an alcoholic son, the chances that the grandson will become sober immediately increase. Alcoholism is therefore not hereditary and the fight against it depends on the will and behavior of the drinker. The role of heredity in the development of alcoholism can only be indirect: a trait or disease contributing to the reduced resistance to "drunkenness" is passed on genetically.

Is female alcoholism curable?

The most common opinion is that no, female alcoholism is not curable. However, both female and male alcoholism can be cured. Of course, this requires the desire and willingness of the female drinker, the support of her loved ones and appropriately chosen therapy.

It should only be said that treatment for female alcoholism should begin as early as possible - at least because the deterioration of the personality in women begins earlier. Alcohol addiction in women develops more quickly than in men, so it is very difficult to treat. In such a state, a woman becomes unbalanced, vulnerable and very difficult to reach. She withdraws into herself and her problems, forgets about her children, and can later become a real threat to them. Women's emotional involvement, for example, a problem such as women's suggestibility, including personal involvement, and dependence on other people's opinions cannot be ignored. It is no secret that alcoholic women are not particularly picky in their sexual relationships - alcohol easily removes moral and ethical barriers. During lighter times, this behavior causes women to feel deep guilt and low self-esteem, and plunges them into the abyss of alcoholic oblivion...and the circle closes. If women are supported during this difficult time, it will be much easier for them to get out of the pathological web of alcohol. Female alcoholism destroys families, leads to divorce, violence, mental disorders in children. In families where the mother drank, more often than not, the children will also suffer from alcohol addiction. If this disease is not treated in time, the consequences can be irreversible.

How is alcoholism in women treated? 

The symptoms of the disease develop so quickly that treatment for female alcoholism is often considerably complicated. The harmful effects of alcoholism on the female body manifest themselves much earlier than in the case of male alcoholism. The most common pathologies in female alcoholics are liver and pancreatic damage.

Often, alcoholics do not want to admit that they are ill. This is especially true for women. Therefore, to help them, they need to have people who are authorities on their behalf talk to them. The first step is to develop motivation. The drinker must come to treatment on his or her own. It should be their conscious choice. To get rid of an alcohol addiction, you can't do without a doctor.

When a woman agrees to seek treatment for her addiction, it is necessary to go immediately to a hospital that specializes in addiction treatment, where she will receive the necessary therapy and assistance. Treatment should take place only with a doctor, not witchcraft, and popular methods in this area will not help. Only comprehensive therapeutic methods will be able to overcome female alcoholism. It is possible that in order to achieve a sober lifestyle, it will be necessary to try several ways and, of course, it will be necessary for the woman drinker to make maximum physical and mental efforts and - most importantly - to give up alcohol completely.

The problem of co-dependence on alcohol between a woman who drinks and her family members requires understanding and awareness. Perhaps seeking help from others who have experienced or are experiencing a similar problem will help in understanding the depth of the problem, as well as finding a way or ways out.


Female alcoholism... It's a disaster in itself. It is not without reason that they say, "If a husband drinks, half the house burns; if a wife drinks, the whole house burns."