Women are now drinking almost as much alcohol as men, shifting a consumption trend that has persisted for at least a century, according to a new study. Historically, men have been up to twice as likely to drink as women. What’s more, men have been more than three times as likely to experience alcohol-related problems, including liver disease, digestive problems, and heart disease. However, the new findings suggest that women now drink virtually as much as men. The trend seems to be most apparent among young adults. Men born in the 1980s are only 1.1 times more likely to drink than women born during the same period. The researchers examined 68 international studies, with the majority coming from Europe and North America. Overall, they analyzed the alcohol habits of four million people born between 1891 and 2000. Researchers looked at factors such as quantity and frequency of drinking as well as binge drinking. Their research did not analyze the reasons behind the narrowing gender gap. Why does it matter if women are now drinking as much as men? Increasing consumption among women is an issue for a variety of reasons:
- Women metabolize alcohol differently than men, which may play a role in a woman’s higher risk for developing alcohol-related conditions, including hepatitis and brain damage. Alcohol use in women has also been linked to breast cancer and heart disease.
- Research suggests women are more likely to telescope–rapidly progress from low levels of substance use to full-blown addiction–than men.
- Stigma may prevent women who need help for alcohol abuse from reaching out. Our culture tends to idolize women who “do it all.” Those pressures take their toll, though, and some women turn to alcohol in the mistaken belief it will relieve their stress or help them feel less anxious. But that “do it all” pressure also then prevents them from seeking help when needed.
If you’re concerned about your alcohol consumption or if you’re worried about a woman you love, contact the Compass Mark team at 717-299-2831. We’ll provide confidential, judgment-free guidance about alcohol abuse prevention, intervention, or treatment. Learn more about alcohol abuse treatment options in Lancaster, PA. Image courtesy of atibodyphoto/FreeDigitalPhotos.net.