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Why More Women Are Reeling from Alcohol Use

  • Category: Women's Health
  • Posted On:
  • Written By: Baton Rouge General
Why More Women Are Reeling from Alcohol Use

Troubling data continues to come in surrounding alcohol use among women and the impact it’s having on their health. A new study found that in 2020-2021, women ages 40-64 were nearly twice as likely to experience alcohol-related complications serious enough to land them in the ER or hospital, including liver disease, alcohol-related mood disorders and severe withdrawal. Experts warn the real numbers could be higher, as some women may not self-report alcohol usage or overuse.

While this particular data did coincide with the first year or so of the pandemic, the trend is not limited to that time period. A 2023 study found that while men still die more often from drinking-related causes than women, deaths among women were climbing at a faster rate – 14.7% compared to 12.5%.

Alcohol affects a women’s body differently, as their bodies don’t metabolize alcohol as fast as men. And with less water in their bodies, the alcohol becomes more concentrated in their system. In short, women don’t have to drink as much to possibly cause liver damage. But a study looking at data from the past decade found that binge drinking – typically considered 5 or more drinks in about 2 hours -- was on the rise among women, driven in large part by increases in those in their 30s and 40s.

This narrowing gap between heavy drinking in men and women can in part be blamed on the rise of “wine mom culture,” which normalizes drinking as a way to cope with the stress of work and family but that for some turns into something much worse than a kitschy t-shirt or joke on social media.

Another thing that could be at play is shifts in marriage and family trends. Women marrying and having children later means they may spend a prolonged period in the “partying” stage. Years of heavy drinking patterns can show up down the line, between 40 and 60. And increased alcohol consumption among this age group correlates with a demographic of women with higher incomes and occupations.

If drinking is causing a negative effect on your life, work or health, you could have an alcohol-related issue. The CDC has an Alcohol Use Screening Tool as a good starting place, but please consult your healthcare provider if you or someone you know needs help with a drinking problem. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has a free, confidential national helpline available 25/7: 800-662-HELP (4357).