This is a guest post by Phyllis Klein.
Since women tend to be more vulnerable to the physical consequences of alcoholism, it is important to try to catch a drinking problem early.
What are the warning signs that you might have a problem?
1. Other people express concern about your drinking.
If this is happening to you especially if the concern is coming from a close friend, family member, or partner, it is important to pay attention. Remember that your drinking friends might tell you you have nothing to worry about, but the nature of drinking problems is the strong desire to avoid or deny and group denial can be a powerful force
2. You repeatedly tell yourself that you will limit your drinking and find that you are unsuccessful?
Include “going on the wagon” here–even if you can stop drinking for a time, that is not a sign that you are not in trouble. It is how you drink when you are drinking that points to a problem.
3. Your mood changes when you are drinking?
Sometimes women drink to self-medicate for depression. However, alcohol is a depressant and actually will cause your depression to get worse. Alcohol can also cause you to be angry and argumentative. Are you having more arguments with people when you are drinking?
4. You drink alone
If you are starting to crave glasses of wine with your dinner or bottles of wine before you go to sleep, this can be a sign of trouble. And although drinking may help you get to bed, it can also disrupt your sleep cycle during the night.
5. You have blackouts
Although not always a sign of addiction, blackouts are a warning sign from your brain telling you that you have had too much to drink. They are scary and can be shameful, but paying attention to them by getting information and seeking help can be invaluable.
To summarize, as a woman your body is more susceptible to the risks of too much alcohol. The Crossroads is an alcohol treatment program for women located in Maine.
This blog post – http://www.crossroadsme.org/blog/ - lists the risks to women with serious alcohol problems as the following:
Alcoholic women develop cirrhosis, damage of the heart muscle (i.e., cardiomyopathy), and nerves (i.e., peripheral neuropathy) after fewer years of heavy drinking than alcoholic men.
Women develop organ damage faster, and at lower levels of alcohol consumption then men because a woman’s body generally has less water than a man’s causing their blood alcohol content to reach higher level, faster.
Adolescent girls who consume even moderate amounts of alcohol may experience disrupted growth and puberty. Heavy drinking in adult women can disrupt normal menstrual cycling and reproductive functions. Alcohol abuse and alcoholism can cause women to suffer from infertility, increased risk for spontaneous abortion, and impaired fetal growth and development.
I list these risks, not to scare you, but to ask, wouldn’t it be preferable to look into your drinking before it got to a point of such potential damage? If you or someone who loves you is concerned about your drinking, getting help can feel really hard. However, there are many ways to reach out without being judged.
If you have questions, reaching out through telephone, email, or helpful internet forums is a good idea. Remember that no one can force you to do something you aren’t ready to do, but getting support and information can be a gentle way to begin a process of getting help.
There are so many women living their lives in recovery from drinking and drug problems. These women are attending support groups, online forums. They are even some of your friends and possibly family. They are ready to welcome you into a new way of living with less shame and fear.
I hope you will take the steps to start down the path of self knowledge and recovery.
Phyllis Klein is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Certified Poetry Therapist in private practice in San Francisco and Palo Alto. She specializes in helping women heal from depression, anxiety, low self esteem, eating disorders, childhood abuse, and addictions. visit Phyllis’ website here – http://phyllisklein.com/