Tip 25: Women
My girlfriend is a cheap date. I mean she’s a real cheap date. Two drinks and she’s flying. A couple of times she has tried to keep up with me but always got wasted. She wants to be a better drinker but I keep telling her to enjoy herself and not worry about getting drunk so easily. Besides it’s cheaper for me.
Paulie T., Assumption College, Junior
I hang out with a bunch of guys who are real jocks. Everything is a competition to them including drinking. Me and my girlfriends don’t come close to keeping up with them. How come?
Lindsey N., University of Miami, Junior
Is it true that women get drunker faster when they are having their period?
Joan A., Fordham University, Freshman
There are a number of differences between men and women that cause women to get drunker more quickly than men even if they weigh the same and have been drinking the same amount of alcohol at the same rate. Lindsey, you and your female friends can’t keep up with the guys (which is not a bad thing) and Paulie your girlfriend is a cheap date (I hope you don’t call her that!) because:
Women tend to weigh less than men, so drink for drink the alcohol is more concentrated in their system.
Even at the same weight as a man, a woman metabolizes alcohol more slowly because men have a higher level of a special stomach enzyme that breaks down alcohol.
Women tend to have a higher percentage of body fat and thus a lower percentage of body water, which also results in women having a higher BAL.
Women taking birth control pills, especially the estrogen pill, have been found to reach higher peak BALs as compared to women not taking oral contraceptives but drinking the same amount. (Don’t forget, depending upon a variety of circumstances, alcohol can have an impact on the effectiveness of birth control pills.)
And Joan, many women have greater sensitivity to alcohol just before their menstrual period and during ovulation. Peak BALs can vary by as much as 100% due to hormonal fluctuations.
Of course there are women who can out drink guys. This can be due to a history of alcoholism in that woman’s family. Or, the woman may be a heavy drinker who has developed a high tolerance over time. And, of course, an important reminder - high tolerance is a sign of increased risk for addiction for men AND women.
A woman’s reaction to alcohol is significantly different than a man’s. If you are female and you drink, find a low-risk drinking pattern that works for you and avoid going “drink for drink” with the guys.