Women's bodies are more sensitive to the effects of alcohol than men's because of lower body weight, having 10% more fat than men's and having less water in their bodies to dilute the alcohol (so the concentration of alcohol in the body is higher). Women have lower levels of alcohol dehydrogenase (AHD), the enzyme for breakdown of alcohol. In women's stomachs the alcohol stays longer in the system before being metabolized, and this results in a greater effect of alcohol. Due to hormonal changes which affect the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, menopause and sometimes beyond, women have a less predictable response to alcohol both physically and psychologically. Women taking the contraceptive pill tend to show a more predictable response but they metabolize alcohol more slowly so the alcohol stays in their system longer.

Women tend to have a much shorter drinking career than men before the onset of serious medical problems, and incur liver damage sooner too. It is more common for women to be prescribed tranquilizers or sleeping tablets than men, so the combination with alcohol can be dangerous, and can increase vulnerability to dependence and psychological problems. There is a lot of pressure for women to drink that comes from the many pro-alcohol advertisements, the encouragement from male friends or partners, and relatives or work colleagues.

The real freedom women experience lies in making an informed choice whether to drink or not. New research shows that alcohol, even in small amounts, affects the ability of college students to learn and remember new information (Duke University Chronicle). Alcohol use raises the risk of breast cancer, and alcohol is now listed as a carcinogen, along with arsenic, asbestos, benzene and others.

Alcohol plays a large part in unwanted sexual behavior and date rape. Alcohol consumption is no justification or excuse for rape, however, alcohol consumption by men is likely to enhance the likelihood that misinterpretation will occur and lead to sexual assault. It is a 'rape' mentality when a man starts out on a date thinking he is going to have sex and doesn't take the person into account. Alcohol can cause women to miss cues that suggest an assault is likely, and decrease the likelihood that they can successfully resist an assault, either verbally or physically.

Over the last century, the rate of alcoholism has been four or five times higher for men than women, but in the baby boomer generation, the rate is now closer to two to one. Women are gaining in this area unfortunately, says Dr. Robert Morse, a psychiatrist who heads the NCADD medical science committee and is former director of addiction programs at the Mayo Clinic.
{"Drinking takes a very heavy toll on the minds and bodies of those who overindulge," HealthScout.com - May 2002}

Alcohol impairs inhibitions, judgment and decision making in both men and women. Mixing alcohol and sex increases the risk of being sexually assaulted, and getting a sexually transmitted disease, or simply being in an embarrassing and awkward situation in the morning. Over half of the women diagnosed with a sexually transmitted disease were drunk at the time of infection. One in five college students abandon safe sex practices when they are drunk, and according to state law, a person who is unconscious, incapacitated (whether from alcohol, drugs or illness), or retarded, cannot give consent to sex. Therefore, if sexual contact occurs under these conditions, it is sexual assault.

The male attacker is often held less responsible for the rape when he was intoxicated than when he was sober. In contrast, the female victim was held more responsible when she was intoxicated than when sober. Thus the costs of intoxication are higher for women. Rape is always the responsibility of the rapist!

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