Women and Alcoholism

Alcoholism affects both men and women, but the experience and severity of addiction may differ between men and women. While men may be generally more likely to drink often and in larger amounts, the physical differences between the sexes make alcoholism especially concerning for women. Data also suggests that although men are more likely to develop addictions, women have a much more difficult time recovering from them and are more likely to struggle with relapse.

On average, women tend to weigh less than men and generally have a greater percentage of body fat. The same amount of alcohol will have a greater concentration in the average woman’s body than the average man’s body, simply based on size and blood volume. Plus, the body’s ability to store ethanol in fat means that women may be able to retain alcohol in their bodies longer than men.

In the 11-year period from 2002 to 2013, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reports that the prevalence of alcohol use disorder in females more than doubled.¹ Why this is on the rise is still uncertain, but there are numerous reasons why women drink.

Many women have pointed to increasing social and career pressures as part of the reason they sought escape in alcohol. For others, it may be something they do to escape the pain of past trauma like abuse or assault. Whatever the reasons, women are finding themselves more and more susceptible to addiction.

The Damage Caused by Alcohol Addiction

Drinking wine on occasion for enjoyment is perfectly healthy but drinking too much wine on a regular basis may be a sign of addiction. Women drinking excessively can have a profound effect on their physical health, mental health, self-image, relationships, career and more, sometimes entirely unraveling what were once very strong and healthy lives. On top of the daily symptoms, women who are addicted to alcohol may show signs like the following:

  • Difficulty maintaining good relationships with family, friends, and/or romantic partners
  • Financial difficulties due to spending too much on alcohol, failing to responsibly manage money while intoxicated, or perhaps both
  • Personality and behavior changes centered around constant access to alcohol (e.g., hiding alcohol around the house, sneaking it in places where it’s not allowed)
  • Increasing defensiveness and denial when approached about a potential problem with alcohol
  • Difficulty keeping or obtaining a job due to intoxication, errors at work, failure to show, calling in too often, etc.
  • Serious long-term physical damage to the liver, kidneys, and other bodily systems (sometimes leading to cirrhosis and/or liver failure)
  • New or worsening depression and anxiety

Why Is Professional Rehab so Important?

Although most people think of drugs as being more dangerous than a legal substance like alcohol, the truth is that withdrawals from alcohol dependency can be more severe than those of other substances. In fact, the impact of alcohol withdrawal on a woman’s body can threaten her very life.

Symptoms of alcohol withdrawal may include the following:²

  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Headaches
  • Shaking

In severe cases, other serious symptoms may arise:

  • Hallucinations
  • Seizures
  • Delirium tremens, a severe condition involving a combination of delusions, hallucinations, racing pulse, sweating, confusion, and/or fever

The safest and most effective way to deal with alcohol withdrawals is to go through a medical detox under the supervision of professionals. Without it, you may be taking the risk of serious physical harm or death.

Women’s Options for Alcoholism Treatment

Comforting Woman Holding Hand

When it comes to getting help for alcohol addiction, there are several different options available for women. Most professional rehab facilities offer gender-specific treatment programs (women-only or men-only) that allow clients to focus on treatment among same-gender peers.

Women-only programs are typically available in three forms: residential (inpatient), outpatient, and intensive outpatient (IOP).

Residential Treatment

The most intensive type of rehabilitation, residential treatment involves living on-site at the facility and working several hours a day on recovering from alcohol addiction. Clients in residential programs have the fewest privileges, must go through an initial communication blackout, and must stay on the facility premises for a time. Eventually, these restrictions are lessened, and additional privileges may be earned as clients successfully work their programs.

Most residential clients start with a medically supervised detox phase. This phase is focused on allowing the body time to purge the remaining alcohol from its systems while comforting and supporting the client herself. If deemed necessary, medical staff may prescribe medications to help mitigate distressing withdrawal symptoms. Once the detox process is over, doctors will work with the woman to taper down safely off these medications.

Outpatient Treatment

Outpatient programs are much less restrictive than residential programs, which is why they are usually intended for those who have recently completed an inpatient program or do not require an alcohol detox phase. Women in outpatient treatment programs focus on continued therapy work, 12-step meetings, and more.

Women in outpatient treatment do not have to live on-site at the facility and may stay at home with family or in a safe sober living environment. They are also allowed to schedule their own meetings and therapy sessions, enabling them to maintain their careers and continue meeting normal responsibilities.

Intensive Outpatient (IOP) Treatment)

Intensive outpatient treatment is similar to standard outpatient treatment, but usually slightly more flexible. IOP programs are available to anyone who needs addiction recovery help but does not need detox and has not recently completed residential treatment. As with standard outpatient programs, clients may live off-site, keep up with normal responsibilities, and manage their own schedules.

What You Can Expect from Treatment at Yellowstone Recovery

Yellowstone Recovery offers women the opportunity to seek help in a safe, gender-specific, women-only environment. Read on to learn more about how our expertly designed residential, outpatient, and intensive outpatient programs work.

Our Residential Treatment

Residential treatment at Yellowstone gives our female clients the opportunity to live, interact, and grow with other women facing similar recovery goals and challenges. Residential clients typically begin with a medically supervised detox period, after which they begin group and individual therapy in a secure, strictly managed environment.

While living in one of our secure residences, women work together to make family-style meals, encourage one another in group counseling, and develop natural peer support networks. Facility staff members are available 24/7 to monitor residential clients as well as assist them with various needs and concerns.

For the first few weeks of treatment, women in residential treatment are placed under a communication blackout. During this initial blackout period, they are not allowed to have any contact with off-site individuals. Once the blackout period has ended, clients are given less restrictive communication privileges and can eventually earn further privileges like family visits, off-site passes, and more.

Our Outpatient and IOP Treatment

Our standard outpatient and intensive outpatient programs are intended to be used by women whose alcoholism is less severe and does not require a full alcohol detox process. As briefly described earlier, Yellowstone’s outpatient treatment program is reserved for those women who have already completed one of our residential programs. Our outpatient clients continue the group and individual therapy work they did during residential care, as well as continue attending 12-step meetings and preparing themselves for their eventual return to normal life.

As part of this transition toward independence, clients are given the ability to live off-site and be in charge of their own treatment schedules. Clients will also have continued access to job and housing search assistance, resume help, and more.

Women who come to us for intensive outpatient care receive much the same treatment and resources that our standard outpatients receive. This kind of treatment can be very beneficial to women who have been in recovery for some time but feel they need a bit of help to stay on track. At Yellowstone, we welcome clients at all stages of the journey!

Amenities and Other Great Benefits

In addition to the effective professional treatment you’ll receive as a client at Yellowstone Recovery, you’ll also be able to take advantage of various recreational opportunities and facility amenities like gyms, pools, video games, and softball.

We simply can’t describe the benefits of attending rehab at Yellowstone without mentioning our beautiful seaside location in southern California. The gorgeous landscapes, comfortable weather, and cultural beauty of the area make it the perfect place for women to escape for a while and focus on getting well. Our Costa Mesa facility is only a few miles away from Newport Beach where you can take in the healing sights and sounds of the ocean.

We Focus on Each Woman Individually

Every woman that comes to Yellowstone Recovery brings her own history and needs with her. In order to make sure that our clients receive the best possible quality of care and feel both understood and supported, we first make sure we understand their personal situations and tailor their treatment plans to their individual requirements.

We understand that there are certain social, financial, and emotional reasons why women’s circumstances may be what they are. Some women may need assistance with child care while they seek treatment, while others may be struggling with negative beliefs based on culturally defined gender roles. Women may feel socially embarrassed about seeking treatment for alcoholism or worry that they will be considered a bad wife, mother, or employee because of her addiction. Whatever the challenges are, we work hard to understand them.

Another reason it’s important to focus on individual women is that there may be co-occurring physical or mental conditions that require special consideration. Such conditions may have played a role in the development and maintenance of a woman’s addiction, which means they’ll need to be addressed for her to have the best chance at ongoing sobriety.

Let Us Help You Break Free from Your Alcohol Addiction

Seeking professional help for alcoholism is largely considered the safest, most effective way to overcome the addiction. Not only does proper treatment help women break free of dependency, but it also gives them the self-confidence and skills they need to maintain their sobriety and lead a healthy, happy life.

It’s also important to remember the value of expert alcohol rehab in regard to withdrawals. Our residential program clients receive thorough detox care from a team of medical professionals who are experienced in working with addicted individuals. During the withdrawal period, you will be carefully monitored 24/7 to prevent and anticipate any emergencies. You may also receive medications or other assistance to ease the distress of withdrawal symptoms.

If a woman you know or you are struggling with an addiction to alcohol, it’s time to get help. Call Yellowstone Recovery today at (888) 418-4188 to get started on the road to a better life.


  1. https://www.webmd.com/women/news/20180718/alcohol-consumption-among-women-is-on-the-rise
  2. https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/addiction/alcohol-withdrawal-symptoms-treatments#1
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Intensive Outpatient (IOP)

Intensive OutPatient treatment (IOP) helps people establish the foundations for lifelong sobriety…

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Our California alcohol and drug addiction treatment program is predicated on restoring you to your ideal health. Detox is a crucial part…

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Primary Care – Residential Treatment

The first phase of our program is primary care. During this phase clients will be in a 30-day “blackout” period…

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Residential Treatment – Extended Care

Residential treatment extended care starts on day 31 and goes through day 90. This period is very important for a client in early recovery…

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Outpatient Treatment

Outpatient treatment serves as aftercare for clients who have completed extended care (90 days of residential treatment)…

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Sober Living

Sober living at Yellowstone begins after the initial residential treatment portion of the program is successfully completed…

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Detox and Residential Treatment

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Experiential Therapy

Experiential Therapy is therapy of the mind rather than the body. It is a tool to help…

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