The number of women who abuse alcohol is on the rise. There are many reasons for the increased usage, but statistics show that women use alcohol increasingly as a coping mechanism. Women who have experienced trauma, particularly sexual trauma, are more likely to begin drinking. Women who are in unhealthy or toxic relationships may also drink to cope. Do women start drinking because of their partners?
Women and Alcohol: The Relationship Factor
Alcohol use among women often stems from stressors within a relationship. Recent statistics show that more women have begun to use alcohol. In an October 2020 report, the number of women who drink alcohol has become almost identical to that of men. For women who use alcohol as a coping mechanism, there is an increased correlation between those women and unhealthy relationships.
This trend should not be of surprise. Women in unhealthy relationships often have low self-esteem, and women who abuse drugs or alcohol also have low self-esteem. Many women begin drinking because of negative aspects within their relationships, particularly verbal, physical, or sexual abuse.
Likewise, women who have substance abuse issues going into a relationship are more likely to find partners with dysfunctional qualities or abuse histories. The relationship factor and its connection to alcohol or drug use are reciprocal.
Codependency and Drinking
Another reason that women in relationships begin using substances is due to codependency. Being with a partner who uses alcohol or drugs increases the woman's chances of choosing or even being coerced into using drugs or alcohol. This dynamic may not make sense to people who are not codependent, but women in these relationships will do anything for their partners.
A woman in a codependent relationship is often dominated by her partner, who may use intimidation or violence to maintain the lack of balance within the relationship. They may even take advantage of a woman's codependent nature due to self-esteem. Codependency is prevalent in relationships with at least one person with substance abuse. Still, women are more likely also to abuse substances to cope with the dysfunction of this type of relationship.
The Negative Effect of Abusive Relationships on Women
There are also abusive relationships in which the woman is the victim of emotional, verbal, physical, or sexual abuse at the hands of a partner. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), there is a direct correlation between abusive relationships and women who drink. Some of their findings include:
- High school girls who had experienced dating violence were far more likely than their peers to use alcohol.
- Wives with alcohol dependency are often involved in relationships containing husband-to-wife violence.
- Women subjected to severe partner violence such as punching, kicking, or threatening with a weapon were more likely to need treatment for alcohol addiction.
Women Who Drink to Cope With Trauma
For many women who have experienced trauma or abuse, alcohol is used as a coping mechanism. There is a significant correlation between women who have experienced childhood trauma, particularly sexual abuse, and women who later abuse alcohol. This correlation extends to women who have experienced trauma in their relationships.
The effects of trauma are physical, emotional, and spiritual. Even when the scars heal physically, the wounds inside remain, creating long-term emotional distress and pain. Women who do not know what to do with that pain or access help will often turn to substances to cope.
Why Don't Women Leave Instead of Drinking Alcohol?
If women are in dysfunctional or abusive relationships, why don't they just leave? Why do they use alcohol instead of getting out? Again, self-esteem is a significant factor. Codependency is another, as mentioned above. Many women do not know how to have a healthy relationship, or they do not know how to cope with the pain of an unhealthy relationship. So, they drink to cope instead.
Getting out of a dysfunctional relationship is the obvious answer from the outside looking in, particularly if drinking becomes an alcohol addiction. Being inside a relationship like this is much more complicated, and many women feel trapped or afraid to try to leave. When your partner intimidates or threatens you, drinking can feel like your only escape.
Even if women begin drinking because of their partners, it does not mean that they must continue to drink. Women with substance abuse can seek treatment and heal, and as they recover from addiction, they can heal from their trauma as well. Being in a dysfunctional relationship with a partner does not mean you have to be in a dysfunctional relationship with alcohol.
Do women start drinking because of their partners? In many instances, women do begin drug or alcohol use because of codependency, low self-esteem, abuse from a partner, or other trauma. They may also have any combination of those reasons to drink. Your relationship with alcohol does not need to define you. The Ho Tai Way – Recovery For Women is a residential treatment center for women with alcohol or drug addiction. We understand women who have been in dysfunctional or abusive relationships, and we offer a safe, peaceful place for you to heal. We provide trauma-informed care for women who have also experienced abuse or trauma. Our facility is located in Costa Mesa, California, near calming beaches and serene mountains. If you are a woman with a drug or alcohol addiction, we are here for you. Contact us today at (714) 581-3974. We can help you to find your way again.