Ending Addiction for Good

Alcohol Use in Women Is Increasing

Australian study shows alarming growth rate of alcohol abuse in women.

Our culture shows its acceptance of alcohol use by its positive and widespread depiction in movies and advertising, which more often than not show young, happy people at celebrations, sporting events, or popular outdoor activities drinking some form of alcohol. More often than not, risky behavior is treated lightly when it comes to drinking many popular alcoholic beverages.

The result of this “liberalization of alcohol regulation, promotion, and the disappearance of more negative social attitudes toward alcohol,” is that a growing number of people and families are affected by alcoholism and abuse of alcohol. Women are one group with alarming alcohol abuse growth rates, according to data from the Mater University Study of Pregnancy in Australia.

In a recently published study, researchers sought to confirm the rise in women’s alcohol consumption. They recruited 1053 expectant mothers between the ages of 18 and 25 who later delivered healthy girls. They answered questions about alcohol consumption before they found out they were pregnant, followed up with periodic reports of use over the next 21 years. Then the adult daughters were surveyed with the same questions at the same age that their mothers had originally been surveyed. Consumption was classified into four groups: “no alcohol,” “up to six glasses a month,” “up to 30 glasses a month,” and “more than 30 glasses a month.”

Overall, the study results showed that daughters were five times more likely to drink over 30 servings  of alcohol a month than their mothers, and 2.7 times more likely to consume between 6 and 30 servings. In addition, about 14 percent of moms and 37 percent of daughters end up in the “more than 30 drinks” category, a 25 percent increase in the most abusive consumption classification. That is a big jump in numbers and indicates a good reason for concern.

"This study provides unique evidence that alcohol use among women in Australia has increased during the past three decades, and that the dramatic increase observed between two generations of women was more pronounced at higher levels of drinking,” the researchers wrote.

The trend of women abusing alcohol and the increase in drinking dangerous amounts of alcohol shows the need for public education targeted specifically at young women to help stop generational drinking problems. The responsibility of women to remain healthy, not only during but before pregnancy, is an important message in the education of substance abuse prevention. A health professional can provide assistance if you have any questions or concerns about your alcohol use.

Constance Scharff, Ph.D. is the Senior Addiction Research Fellow and Director of Addiction Research at Cliffside Malibu Treatment Center.

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