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Closing the Gap: Addressing Alcohol Use Disorder for Young Women

Closing the Gap: Addressing Alcohol Use Disorder for Young Women

It is common for many young adults to drink recreationally. Young adulthood comes with intense pressure to hit common adult milestones. These may include graduating from college, finding a solid career, meeting a committed spouse, and establishing new home ownership. Binge drinking daily for a prolonged period can often lead to alcohol use disorder (AUD). An individual’s symptoms can feel uncomfortable, and alcohol withdrawal can potentially cause serious risks to one’s physical health. Although AUD is known to negatively affect many women’s lives, surrendering to care at New Creation Recovery can help young women facing challenges with the effects of AUD.

What Is Alcohol Use Disorder?

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), severe AUD generally encompasses slight alcohol dependency, alcohol abuse, or alcoholism. The condition is clinically known to be much more serious than general addiction alone. AUD is considered to be a prevalent and chronic brain disorder. The health condition can range from mild, moderate, to severe. Severe AUD has been shown to cause persistent changes in an individual’s brain. An individual’s changes in brain structure make one more susceptible to having an unwanted substance relapse. 

Alcohol Use Disorder Symptoms

The severity of AUD symptoms strongly depends on how much an individual drinks over a period of time. For example, if an individual chooses to binge drink every day for a prolonged period, their symptoms may be more severe in comparison to those with mild alcoholism. Therefore, not everyone experiences the same AUD symptoms, as they can be different for everyone. Increased symptoms warrant immediate attention. It can be helpful for one to log their uncomfortable symptoms. Recording certain ailments may seem time-consuming, but it may be wise to report them to a trained specialist for proper management. Common symptoms typically include: 

  • Drinking more alcohol than intended or for longer than expected
  • Having thoughts of discontinuing drinking alcoholic beverages or trying to but failed
  • Spending a long period drinking, becoming ill over drinking, or experiencing intense hangovers
  • Putting all focus on drinking where nothing else mattered
  • Finding that negative symptoms interfere with top priorities
  • Continuing to drink alcoholic beverages regardless of the trouble it has caused

More symptoms that may put one at further risk include: 

  • Completely stopping or gradually cutting back on participating in once-pleasurable activities
  • Getting into into accidents when engaging in certain activities while intoxicated such as engaging in risky sexual behavior, swimming, driving, operating machinery, or exploring a dangerous area
  • Continuing to drink despite the mental or physical consequences that have already occurred
  • Having to drink more alcohol than usual to achieve the desired effects 
  • Staring experiencing dangerous withdrawal symptoms after attempting to quit drinking

Female Alcohol Use Disorder Statistics

According to a separate study by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIMH), recent research has estimated that in 2022 approximately 28.8 million adults aged 18 and older were diagnosed with AUD. Research evidence has also shown that the onset of female alcoholism typically starts sooner than with males, but women tend to drink less than men due to several different reasons.

For instance, females typically weigh less than the average male. Scientifically, women have less water in their bodies than men do. Alcohol primarily exists in body water, and pound for pound. Therefore, if a male and a female drink the same amount of alcohol the female’s alcohol blood concentration would be higher. This would essentially put a young woman at increased risk for serious complications with her health. 

Risks of Alcohol-Induced Blackout

Because of these factors, females are more prone to alcohol-induced blackouts. This can be dangerous as a blackout can happen anywhere such as at a party. An unforeseen blackout can cause serious physical injury. A blackout can also put one at risk for life-threatening situations such as rape, sexual abuse, or assault. Trauma can often lead to worsened depression or co-occurring mental health conditions.  Women also tend to have problems with hangovers the next day.

Within the past 20 years, in comparison to men, women have shown an increased rate of hospitalizations, emergency room visits, and deaths related to their drinking. Recent studies have demonstrated that those who drink at least one drink per day were at a 5% to 9% higher risk for developing breast cancer than females who did not. 

Breast cancer is a malignant condition where cells grow out of control. There is a five-year survival rate for women in the United States with breast cancer. Therefore, taking preventative steps is crucial for a young woman to maintain good health.

Gender Difference in Alcohol Consumption

Based on the previously mentioned National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIMH) study, research indicates that alcohol abuse among women has increased over the past decade. Understanding that consuming alcohol can affect both males and females, women who drink have shown an increased risk of specific alcohol-related health issues in comparison to men. 

Studies have also discovered that brain damage is found sooner in women than men. Vast growing evidence has proven that alcohol interferes with an adolescent’s brain development. Teenagers may present different brain abnormalities than those who do not drink. One study has found that teen girls who engaged in binge drinking showed less brain activity and poor memory test performance than boys who did not. 

Therefore, it is recommended that women who are of a legal age to drink should limit their intake to at least one drink or less a day or stay abstinent from alcoholic beverages. It is strongly advised that women who are pregnant or trying to conceive should avoid drinking alcohol completely. Doing so may prevent serious birth defects, spontaneous intrauterine death of a fetus, and the risk of one’s baby being stillborn. 

Risk Factors for Alcohol Use Disorder Among Women

Extensive medical research and clinical studies have analyzed AUD for years. The cause of AUD is not fully understood by medical health professionals. Although this may be true, many risk factors play a role in the development of severe AUD. Risk factors commonly include: 

  • Genetic factors
  • Binge drinking at an early age
  • Self-medicating an untreated mental health condition
  • History of trauma 
  • Environmental alcohol exposure
  • Spending time with the wrong crowd of friends

Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms

If an individual does not seek professional care for their severe AUD, they may be at an increased risk for lasting health effects. An individual with AUD is less likely to discontinue drinking even while knowing the serious consequences of prolonged alcohol abuse. If one does attempt abstinence from alcohol, they may be putting their mental and physical health at serious risk for future complications. 

The cycle of addiction can be difficult to break. An individual’s withdrawal symptoms may be so severe that they may be more susceptible to begin engaging in alcohol abuse again, making it very hard to stop. For some individuals, it may be tough to come back from an alcohol relapse. They may develop intense feelings of guilt and shame associated with their relapse. This can often lead one to feel extremely discouraged and less motivated to maintain abstinence from alcohol again.

The unhealthy effects of alcohol withdrawal typically occur within the first eight hours after finishing one’s last alcoholic beverage. An individual’s withdrawal symptoms may start to peak within the first day or a few days but may persist for weeks on end. Withdrawal symptoms may consist of the following: 

  • Intense fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Severe mood swings
  • Tremors
  • Night terrors
  • Brain fog
  • Profuse sweating
  • Dilated pupils
  • Severe headaches
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Sudden loss of appetite
  • Sinus tachycardia
  • Cold, clammy hands
  • Fevers
  • Hallucinations
  • Seizures

How Does AUD Affect a Woman’s Life?

Severe AUD can negatively affect many different areas of a young woman’s life. This can be especially so if an individual starts drinking at an early age. Just about every “societal expectation” may be severely impacted. For someone with AUD, it may have been difficult to achieve both early and late milestones in life. All told, AUD can lead to various life problems. Untreated AUD can cause the following: 

  • Dropping out of school
  • Delayed academic success at a college level
  • Persistent marital problems or divorce
  • Impaired work performance or job loss
  • Relationship problems with family or friends
  • Inability to make new healthy connections with peers
  • Weight problems
  • Physical health risks

Mental and Physical Health Consequences of Alcohol Use Disorder For Women

A young woman’s life may be severely impacted by untreated AUD. If one chooses to go longer without seeking professional support, her mental and physical health may be at serious risk. There is a strong link between addiction and co-occurring mental health conditions. As stated previously, if an individual binge drinks for a long period they may be at risk for potential brain damage. The lasting effects on an individual’s brain can mark permanent mental and physical consequences. 

Untreated AUD may lead to inadequate sleep patterns due to sleep disturbances such as insomnia or sleeping too much. A young woman may also be at risk for developing psychiatric disorders such as depression or anxiety. Poor mental health may make it especially difficult for one to ward off intense substance cravings. An individual may also face problems coping with self-stigma and hurtful external stigma from peers. It may also be difficult for one to respond to peer pressure and unwanted substance triggers. 

Closing the Gap for Girls and Young Women With AUD

Prolonged AUD can spiral a young woman’s life out of control. Not only does addiction affect the individual facing problems with their condition, but their loved ones may also be affected as well. Family members may endure intense distress due to a lack of understanding of addiction. This can be heartbreaking for some families. AUD can place a deep burden on healthcare systems, law enforcement agencies, families, and society as a whole. Therefore, the severe effects of addiction can negatively impact an individual’s future altogether. 

Equally important, it is imperative for young women to seek immediate care for their addiction to establish a healthier lifestyle with long-term mental stability. The sooner a woman recognizes the warning signs of her condition, the sooner she may be able to repair her life. An individual’s loved ones may begin to heal too. Many facilities work to close the gap by raising awareness and providing spaces and options that are appropriate to a woman’s needs. 

Getting Started at New Creation Recovery for AUD Management

It may be helpful for one to take much-needed time to research a facility that specializes in their specific condition. A majority of treatment centers provide their clients with a selective amount of treatment options. It may be beneficial to speak with a specialist at a specific treatment center to develop a comprehensive treatment plan. Doing so can help ensure the individual can successfully navigate their recovery journey. 

At New Creation Recovery, we take pride in our overall mission. Our team of specialists stays dedicated to continuing to raise awareness for women’s mental health and addiction issues. We provide a safe and appropriate space that offers young women the care they need to heal from the negative effects of AUD. New Creation Recovery’s team works hard to target the individual’s specific needs and support their path to recovery through early intervention. 

Our alcohol rehab program considers that the negative effects of AUD can change an individual’s entire life. We provide one-on-one care to help young women overcome these challenges associated with AUD. The team at New Creation Recovery tailors our substance abuse treatment to fit the source of one’s problem. This is all done through a zero-judgment approach. Our team of experts not only works to address addiction but also takes the individual’s mind, body, and soul into consideration as well. An individual may undergo specific steps to assess one’s addiction to better develop a treatment plan moving forward. A young woman may start by undergoing the following: 

  • Medical evaluation
  • Psychiatric evaluation
  • Brain wellness program
  • Cognitive testing
  • Pharmacogenetic testing
  • Cognitive training program
  • Toxicology testing

Breaking Down Treatment Options for Young Women With AUD at New Creation Recovery

It may be best to explore different treatment options before jumping into the standard plan of care for a more personal approach. A specialist may ask several questions to get to know an individual’s complete background history, strengths, and weaknesses. Doing so may help their team map out a proper treatment plan to help one achieve a more positive outcome. Different treatment options that are provided for young women with AUD include: 

  • Alcohol detox: relieves one from intense cravings that may interfere with treatment
  • Different types of therapy: teaches young women the strategies needed to manage and cope with their condition
  • Experimental therapies: unique therapies such as outdoor therapy or life coaching to gain a new perspective on their condition
  • Family-based recovery: a type of therapy that works to repair broken family relationships, inform family members about their loved one’s condition, and teach family members how to be a good role model for relapse prevention
  • Trauma treatment: trauma-informed care works to address the wounds that may have led one to binge drink, working to help one respond to unwanted triggers and move forward from the past
  • Holistic rehab treatment: this is a natural approach to care for those who are looking for a safer more enjoyable plan moving forward
  • Behavioral health treatment: as addiction is linked with co-occurring mental health problems, this type of treatment works to address certain behaviors and change them to promote a better lifestyle 
  • Faith-based recovery: this type of therapy offers a whole-person approach to give a more enhanced treatment experience. Emotional, professional, and peer support are beneficial, but faith-based support can make a world of difference to women who feel something is missing. 

Our staff at New Creation Recovery takes great care to make sure that treatment is based on each client’s individual needs, including the needs of loved ones. We realize that you have specific needs based on your history and your lifestyle. What you need to understand about alcohol addiction is that it is not a death sentence, and it is not something that you need to live with for the rest of your life. Young women with even the most severe AUD have a chance at starting a new life and have shown great improvement at our facility. If you or a loved one are facing challenges with AUD, call New Creation Recovery at (877) 868-5730