Defining the Problem

Despite being legal, widely available, and normalized everywhere — social media, TV, films — alcohol addiction has become a serious health issue. In the United States alone, more than 5.5 million women struggle with alcohol use disorders (AUD), according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA).

Unlike a stimulant that raises levels of physiological or nervous energy in the body, alcohol is a depressant. Drinking helps numb the pain and allows for a feeling of escape from everyday life. But over time, these self-medicating measures aren’t as effective and are increasingly more dangerous.

When your body builds up a tolerance to alcohol, it forces you to drink even more to achieve the same results. In addition to causing headaches, high blood pressure, and sleep issues, alcohol addiction can have a serious impact on your judgment and ability to focus.

While it may begin innocently enough, alcohol addiction can develop into a compulsive habit with life-altering consequences if it’s not addressed early. Prolonged use of alcohol can become full-blown alcohol addiction without your permission, which can have a serious impact on brain chemistry.

Moderate vs. Excessive Drinking

How do you differentiate a social drinker from someone whose drinking is problematic? A few signs include:

  • Increased anxiety, paranoia, depression, or personality changes
  • Riskier behavior such as driving while intoxicated, starting fights, or unsafe sexual practices
  • Increased work absences
  • Pulling back from family and friends
  • Symptoms of withdrawal including shaking, insomnia, and nausea
  • Needing more alcohol to achieve the same buzz
  • Reaching for a drink whenever life is stressful or problematic
woman alcohol addiction

The Risks for Women

While it used to be believed that a daily glass of wine had a positive effect on cardiovascular health, that idea has since been debunked. In research shared on TODAY, alcohol-related deaths have risen 25% with particular concern for women. When compared with their male counterparts, women have increased their alcohol consumption at a higher rate. As a result, the risk of certain cancers, liver disease, heart disease, and brain damage has also climbed.

For many women, especially young women, alcohol addiction can be a co-occurring condition with an eating disorder. When studying a number of females in varying age groups, experts discovered that 72% of women who struggled with alcoholism under age 30 had lifetime histories of comorbid eating disorders, according to research published by the National Library of Medicine (NLM).

While it is more common to be diagnosed with bulimia than anorexia, there are many commonalities among behavioral and personality traits with alcoholism and eating disorders, including impulsive tendencies and mood swings.

In both cases, alcohol addiction is characterized by a loss of control and the disregard and denial of the consequences of repeated behavior. Recently, these co-occurring behaviors have led to a new term and diagnostic criteria that the NLM named drunkorexia. A clinical term used in both academic circles and pop culture, drunkorexia is a condition where an individual cuts calories or exercises to an extreme degree to account for alcohol consumption.

We are Here to Help

Eating disorders aren’t relegated to a specific demographic or socioeconomic status, and neither is alcoholism. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), alcoholism or alcohol misuse affects millions of people every year with an average of six people dying of alcohol-related deaths in the United States every day.

If you or someone you care about is struggling with alcohol addiction and a co-occurring eating disorder, we at The Meadows Ranch want to help. Our caring staff and clinicians are specially-trained to treat not just the conditions, but their underlying causes. By treating you as a whole, you will experience lasting healing and freedom as your health is fully restored. Reach out today to learn more.

Call 866-332-0836