In reflecting upon Ms. Kim Richards, (see video of limo brawl here) star of Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, there is a researcher who has found that dissatisfaction with one’s role as a housewife could drive women to alcoholism (1989). Further, research sponsored by the Washington, DC headquartered National Institute of Health (NIH) suggest that unmarried women are at risk too. For instance, women who have trouble with their closet relationships tend to drink more than other women. NIH estimates that there are 14 million of people in the US who abuse alcohol or are alcohol dependent. Women comprise one-third of this population.
A comparison of the effects of alcohol consumption between men verses women
Women have / are
Lower maximum drink within the dietary guidelines (one wine, beer, cooler) per day verses two for men.
Death rates are 50 to 100 percent higher than male counterparts (Webdietitian.com)
Blood alcohol concentration (BAC)is higher in women than men (particularly during their menstrual cycle).
More fatty tissue less body water than men of the same size, also increasing their BAC.
A less active stomach enzyme, gastric alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH). Its purpose is to break down alcohol within the blood system.
At greater risk for liver disease as damage to the liver advances more rapidly than in men.
Getting back to women, stress, and low self esteem
Maybe someone is on to something. Our closest relationships (or lack thereof) cause the greatest grief and the source of our biggest disappointments. Research by NIH has demonstrated that heavy drinking is more common among women who are cohabiting with a partner, divorced, separated and among women who have never married. However, are alcoholics more outwardly focused than the rest of us?
No. Drawing upon other studies, the author Florence Ridlon reported in the book, A fallen angel: the status insularity of the female alcoholic, shows that female alcoholics suffer crippling low self esteem, and refer to themselves in a self depreciating and degrading manner. She references a psychologist at Massachusetts General Hospital who reported upon alcoholic housewives under observation as ‘always‘ preoccupied (worried) about being inadequate and inept.’ (p.81).
Do women alcoholics suffer low self esteem after becoming an alcoholic or before?
Linda Beckman’s research as discussed in Ms. Ridlon’s book found that women with low self esteem may be predisposed to either alcoholism or emotional problems. Low self esteem, she writes was present in women before alcoholism and not after or due to alcoholism.
Alcohol: A women’s health issue. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (2003). Washington, DC. National Institutes of Health Publication No. 03-4956.
Bogart, L.M., & Collins, R.L. (2005) Effects of early and later marriage on women’s alcohol use in young adulthood: a prospective analysis. Santa Monica: Rand Corporation.(Supported by National Institute on Drug Abuse grant ROI DA 13515).
Farid, B., Elsherbini, Ogden, M. (1989) Alcoholic Housewives and role satisfaction. Alcohol & Alcoholism, 24 (4), 331-337.
Ridlon, F. (1988) A fallen angel: the status insularity of the female alcoholic. London: Bucknell University Press
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