Prevention and Education can save lives!
Veterans Benefits Administration
Elizabeth Baltensperger, LCSW
Women Veterans Program Manager
Alaska VA Healthcare System
1201 N. Muldoon Road
Anchorage, Alaska 99504
v. message: (907) 257-4737, fax: (907) 770-2077
Women and Alcoholism
The Alaska Women’s Network is adding alcohol dependence to the Women and Health page because alcoholism is a disease that impacts women and girls. Alaska has a high rate of substance abuse and a high rate of abuse against women. Often the two are related.
What is alcoholism? Answer: Alcoholism, also known as “alcohol dependence,” is a disease that includes alcohol craving and continued drinking despite repeated alcohol-related problems, such as losing a job or getting into trouble with the law. It includes four symptoms:
Craving — A strong need, or compulsion, to drink.
Impaired control — The inability to limit one’s drinking on any given occasion.
Physical dependence — Withdrawal symptoms, such as nausea, sweating, shakiness, and anxiety, when alcohol use is stopped after a period of heavy drinking.
Tolerance — The need for increasing amounts of alcohol in order to feel its effects. A woman who drinks gets drunker faster than her male partner and might engage in unprotected sex. A woman who drinks can be assaulted by a stranger or a friend.
In Alaska, women are murdered every year in cases where alcohol is a factor. The effects of alcohol on the liver are more severe for women than men, and women can develop cirrhosis and hepatitis sooner than men. More alcoholic women die from liver cirrhosis than men.
There is a great deal of information available on the Internet, but About.com has a collection of articles about women and the symptoms of alcoholism, types of treatment, and getting help through 12 step programs.
About.com has an Alcoholism Screening Quiz you can take.
Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Alaska also has one of the highest rates of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Disease (FASD) in the country. The good news is that the rate dropped significantly (32%) from 1996 to 2002 for Native babies after a major education effort by the state and federal government (FAS report).
Babies whose mothers drink during pregnancy can have a long list of lifelong health problems, including brain damage. It is the only birth defect that is totally preventable. Learn more at the State of Alaska Health & Social Services website on FASD.
As with all health problems, see your health care provider. You can find an AA group near you atAlcoholics Anonymous Alaska or check your newspaper for listings of support groups.
Understand, Prevent & Resolve Life’s Challenges
Alaska Birth Network, a consumer based, grassroots organization centered on the belief that birth can profoundly affect our physical, mental, and spiritual well-being. ABN was founded in 2008 as a chapter of Birth Network National. We are a team of local consumers, advocates, and health professionals dedicated to increasing the awareness and availability of evidence-based maternity care as defined by the Mother-Friendly Childbirth Initiative (MFCI), through information, advocacy, and support. We hold free monthly meetings to discuss topics related to pregnancy and birth, distribute Choices in Childbirth’s Guide to a Healthy Birth around the state, and do community outreach to help mothers access resources for healthy births.
Stormy Antonovich, Co-Leader
Alaska Health Fair
March of Dimes Alaska Chapter
Network of Care is a comprehensive, Internet-based community resource for the elderly and people with disabilities, as well as their caregivers and service providers.
Alaska’s Network of Care was created by the Statewide Independent Living Council (SILC), in cooperation with the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority. The project is part of a broad effort by the SILC to improve and better coordinate long-term care services for Alaskan seniors and persons experiencing disabilities.
Exercise your physical and spiritual well-being; check out the seasonal facility openings for our parks, trails and campgrounds at:
Alaska Department of Natural Resources
Get connected, get answers! United Way’s 2-1-1 is a 24/7 easy to remember phone number with supporting website to connect individuals with vital resources in their community.
Anchorage Project Access
Although access to health care and lack of health insurance is a complicated national problem, hundreds of communities across the United States have developed plans within their communities to provide an organized network for low-income people to receive health care.
One model is a volunteer health care provider network, developed by the medical society in Asheville, North Carolina. That model has resulted in a decrease in ER use by the target population by 70%, reduced hospital charity expenses by 23%, and decreased work absenteeism among those enrolled.
Want to know more about your prescriptions?
U.S. Food and Drug Administration
The Sister Study is conducted by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, one of the National Institutes of Health, of the US Department of Health and Human Services. From 2004 to 2009, more than 50,000 women across the US and Puerto Rico, who were between ages 35–74 and whose sister had breast cancer, joined this landmark research effort to find causes of breast cancer. Because of their shared environment, genes, and experiences, studying sisters provides a greater chance of identifying risk factors that may help us find ways to prevent breast cancer.
The Sister Study is currently tracking the health of women in the cohort. Participants complete health updates each year, as well as detailed questionnaires about health and experiences every two-to-three years. Research in the Sister Study focuses on causes of breast cancer and other health issues in women, as well as on factors that influence quality of life and outcomes after a breast cancer diagnosis.
Sister Study site or call 1-877-474-7837;
Deaf/Hard of Hearing, 1-866-TTY-4747.
Breast & Cervical Health Check
More than 14,000 Alaskan Women screened throughout Alaska, the Alaska Breast and Cervical Health Check (BCHC) program offers free or low-cost breast and cervical health screening to income eligible women ages 21 to 64 who does not have insurance, cannot meet their deductible or whose insurance does not pay for a woman’s annual health exam. A Health Check starts with a Pap test, pelvic exam and clinical breast exams. Women 40 – 64 also receives a mammogram as well.
The YWCA Alaska Women’s Wellness ENCOREplus program works to eradicate health disparities by increasing access to healthcare. We do this through intensive community education, connection to life-saving screenings and direct assistance to individuals experiencing barriers to healthcare.
To learn more about the program or find out if you are eligible, call YWCA Alaska Women’s Wellness ENCOREplus at 907/644-9620 or visit our website at http://ywcaak.org/womens-wellness-2/ for breast and cervical cancer outreach, education and screening, and our Lend a Helping Hand and Men, too program information.
Women’s Wellness Outreach Coordinator
324 E. 5th Ave.
Anchorage, AK 99501
Or call 1-800-410-6266 to find the screening services nearest you.
Early Intervention/Infant Learning Program
Women often have questions about childhood development. Children roll over, sit alone, learn to talk, crawl and walk at different times and ages. If you have questions about your infant or toddler’s development, talk to your doctor or your local early intervention specialist.
Call 907-269-3400 or AK Info 1-800-478-2221 and you will be given the name and telephone number of the local EI/ILP program nearest you.
Endometriosis online support group
Wired for Health – Breast Cancer Awareness
is information sponsored by the YWCA in Anchorage and is a superb site for information on breast cancer.
Residence XII for Women, Seattle
Chemical Dependency Treatment Center for Women. Run by women, for women, for the past sixteen years. The website includes a survey if you feel you have a dependency problem. To our knowledge, there is no comparable facility in Alaska – if you know of one, please e-mail the Web Goddess. Who amongst us hasn’t been touched by alcohol or drug abuse?
Mayo Clinic Health Oasis
Native American Women’s Health Education Resource Center
A reservation-based, non-profit organization in South Dakota serving Native American women and their families. The website makes the Resource Center’s publications on Native American public health available to the community at large. Contact: Sandy Wade.
The National Women’s Health Information Center
General Consumer Information/Health Inquiries
Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest Alaska
Planned Parenthood Federation of America
Do you have information about health care issues for women in Alaska? Resources? Websites you’ve found helpful? Support Groups? Please e-mail the Web Goddess and we’ll spread the word.