Women and Alcohol

The drinking patterns of women and men differ in terms of type of alcoholic beverages preferred, amount of alcohol consumed and frequency of drinking alcohol.

Likely reasons why women drink heavily in India

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Family history
  • Interpersonal problems
  • Living with a partner with alcohol dependence


Men are more likely to be binge drinkers as compared to women but women are at a higher risk of developing health problems.

Women at a higher risk for alcohol related health problems because

  • Weight - women usually weigh lesser than men
  • Body water (which helps dissolve alcohol)  - women have lesser body water than men
  • Stomach enzymes – women have lower levels of alcohol dehydrogenase enzymes resulting in a higher amount of alcohol in the systemic circulation

Common risks for women are

  • Liver damage – women who tend to drink are likely to suffer from hepatitis than men who drink the same amount of alcohol
  • Heart disease – women are more likely to suffer from heart disease due to drinking as compared to men
  • Breast cancer
  • Problems during pregnancy and physical and psychological damage to the foetus during pregnancy
  • Vulnerability to sexual abuse, sexually transmitted diseases due to unprotected sex


A useful tip for women is not to have more than one drink per day and stay alcohol free for at least two days in a week!



Babor, T.F., and Higgins-Biddle. Brief Intervention for Hazardous  and Harmful Drinking: Manual for use in primary care. World Health Organization.

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism 

Lal R. Substance Use Disorders: A Manual for physicians. New Delhi: National Drug Dependence Treatment Center, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, 2005.