Drinking Is on the Rise Among US Women

November 12, 2012

Drinking Is on the Rise Among US Women

A new review of previous studies is soon to be published in the journal, Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research. The review addressed 31 earlier studies and investigated how age and gender influenced our drinking habits.

It identified that in the United States problem drinking in women is on the increase. Because women are drinking almost as much as their male counterparts the same alcohol related disorders are frequently appearing in the female population. Women are drinking as much as men and doing it as often as men too.

The review also found that those born after 1945 were more prone to binge drinking and having problems caused with alcohol.

Alcoholism in Women

The researcher, Katherine M. Keyes, PhD, who is a postdoctoral fellow in epidemiology at Columbia University in New York City says, “Given that alcoholism among women is increasing, there is a need for specific public health prevention and intervention efforts”. She goes on to say that these efforts should be aimed at those women who are binge drinkers or heavy drinkers.

Binge drinking is generally considered to be when men drink more than five drinks in two hours. Women who drink more than four drinks in two hours are considered binge drinkers. There is a definition produced by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism which states that binge drinking is a way of drinking that ‘brings a person’s blood alcohol concentration to 0.08 grams percent or above’.

Experts in the field like addiction therapist Paul Leslie Hokemeyer, PhD, agree that drinking habits are changing. He says “This study empirically shows us that drinking trends are impacting women.” He maintains that the finding that those born after world war two were more liable to be binge drinkers by saying, “After World War II, the role of women changed. More women entered the work force, but they were also expected to be good mothers and wives.”

In conclusion he points out that women felt the pressure at this time of great change and they found an easily accessible product to help them cope. He says, “They have latched hold of alcohol as a coping mechanism because it is readily available and socially acceptable”.

Women and Stress

Hokemeyer analyses the situation and explains that there are reasons why drinking habits from both sexes are becoming similar. Historically some jobs were for men only. Banking and finance is one such industry, but today many women hold good positions in their companies. These women compete with their male counterparts on a daily basis and men go for a drink regularly. It makes sense that women are now joining them.

However he also points out the dangers of too much alcohol and says that it is not a good way to cope with stress. He asserts that, “If that quiet voice inside your head, heart, and gut is telling you that something is not right, follow your instincts. For women, in particular, there is so much shame around alcoholism and drug use that they have a hard time connecting to recovery issues.” He finishes by saying that if you feel that you are drinking too much or that alcohol is taking over then ‘you are probably right’.

Another expert Richard A. Grucza, PhD, an epidemiologist at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis agrees that this study actually brings all the previous research together showing that male and female lifestyles are becoming the same. He says, “The gender gap is narrowing, and this may have a lot to do with the numbers of women entering the work force”. He also points out that, “This financial independence increases their access to alcohol”.

He also believes that when young women go thru college and university they are first exposed to alcohol. Because more female undergraduates are drinking then there will be more problems later in life. He says that programs which explain problem drinking would be a useful tool in the fight against binge drinkers or anyone with alcohol related problems.

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