A new study finds alcohol consumption among women born in the late 1900s is nearly the same as it is among men in the same group. The number of female alcoholics is a stark change from decades prior.
According to research published in The BMJ in late October, women born in the early twentieth century were about 2.2 times less likely than men to consume alcohol and 3.0 times less likely to drink alcohol in ways suggestive of problematic use. However, women born in the late twentieth century are only about 1.1 times less likely than men to consume alcohol and just 1.2 times less likely to drink alcohol in ways suggestive of problematic use.
One of the researchers, Columbia University associate professor of epidemiology, Katherine M. Keyes, talked to CNN about the importance of the study.
“There had been several reports of sex convergence regarding alcohol consumption, but nobody had confirmed that, which is why we decided to look over global studies published throughout the years to see if we could prove that there had been a shift,” Keyes said.
Keyes also talked about why the study focused on gender differences.
“The essential thing to highlight is that there is treatment available for anyone suffering with alcohol abuse, both men and women,” Keyes said. “However, the focus here is women because there seems to be a stigma associated with women who drink and need help, as alcohol consumption is viewed as a male phenomenon.”
These findings show that we as a society can no longer think of alcoholism as only a man’s disease.
The Importance of Understanding Patterns of Alcohol Abuse
The article publishing the findings did not report on why the alcohol consumption gap narrowed. The study was not designed to answers such a question. However, researchers cited changing gender roles, especially for women as a potential cause.
Understanding how the patterns of alcohol abuse differ across various demographic groups and how they change over time can help guide recovery professionals in designing specific treatment programs for individuals in each group.
“Gender differences are diminishing, so public health practitioners need to bring women into the fold when it comes to alcohol abuse,” Keyes said, “Understanding how its consumption has evolved is essential to develop effective available treatments.”
This information could help struggling alcoholics break free of the hold addiction has on them and hopefully avoid the devastating health effects alcohol abuse can cause.
The study showed the gap between men and women in regards to developing health problems from alcohol abuse has also significantly narrowed. While men born in the early 1900s were 3.6 times as likely as women born in the same time period to develop health problems from alcohol use. Men born in the late 1900s were only 1.3 times as likely as women to develop alcohol related health problems.
Health Problems Associated with Female Alcoholics
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), alcohol abuse has been linked to higher rates of sexual assault, homicide, and suicide. Alcohol abuse can also lead to risky behaviors including drunk driving, promiscuity, and unprotected sex. These risky behaviors can lead to diseases, injuries, or death. The overconsumption of alcohol can lead to other injuries or fatalities by increasing the likelihood of falling, drowning, or being burned.
Alcohol use while pregnant can lead to miscarriages, stillbirths, or fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FADs).
Alcohol abuse can also have long term effects on a person’s health. It can increase the likelihood of developing high blood pressure, heart disease, liver disease, dementia, depression, anxiety, and gastrointestinal disorder. It has been linked to breast cancer, colon cancer, liver cancer, and throat cancer. It can also lead to several social and family problems as well as unemployment.
Additional Notes from the Alcohol Use Study
The recently published study may have a Western bias, as most of the data it analyzed were gathered from studies done in Europe and North America. Keyes said more data is needed from the rest of the world. “We looked at all the available countries, but more research is needed globally. More population studies are needed,” she said.
The study discussed in this article was a joint effort of institutes in Australia and the United States. Among the institutes involved and the National Health and Medical Research Committee (NHMRC) Centre of Research Excellence in Mental Health and Substance Use, the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, the University of New South Wales, Columbia University, and the Mailman School of Public Health. Researchers included Keyes, Cath Chapman, Tim Slade, Wendy Swift, Maree Teesson, and Zoe Tonks.
Alcohol addiction can happen to anyone who drinks. While you may have previously only thought about this problem as something that could happen to your father, brother, or son, we now know it is nearly as likely to strike you mother, your sister, or your daughter. If you or someone you know may have an alcohol abuse problem, don’t hesitate to get help. Every day of heavy drinking increases the likelihood of health problems.
If you or a loved one feels a need to overcome an addiction, contact BLVD Treatment Centers. At BLVD Treatment Centers we custom tailor our recovery programs within the safe and nurturing confines of our rehab treatment centers. Located throughout Southern California, in Los Angeles, Orange County, San Diego and in Portland, OR, our mission is to assess the severity of your addiction to help you achieve true recovery. Call us now at 1-866.582.9844.