Alarm bells are ringing over women's alcohol consumption

It was recently reported that women are catching up to men in their rate of alcohol consumption, and you’d have to question what implications there are for how society responds to this misuse of alcohol.

It’s no surprise that when it comes to booze men are more likely to be the ones drinking in quantities that affect their health in all the wrong ways. Historically, the figures prove this. Yet, this new information highlights something of a significant shift in the way men and women are consuming alcohol.

A recent study looked at the differences in consumption, abuse and dependence between men and women since the 1970s.

What it revealed was that the gap is decreasing.

The research team from the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre of the University of New South Wales has concluded that for this reason public health campaigns on alcohol use and abuse needs to increase its target towards women.

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The team looked at 68 studies in more than 35 countries, a total sample size of 4 million men and women, and the drinking habits between men and women from 1891 through to 2014.

If you go back to the late-1800s and early-1900s men were twice as likely to drink than women and were three times more likely to be involved in abuse or harmful behaviour in relation to their alcohol intake. However, between 1991 and 2000 this has reached parity.

Why have women’s drinking habits changed so dramatically?

You could put it down to a number of reasons including a need to be a part of an after-work drinking culture that was traditionally the domain of men, and/or a drop in the price of alcohol that has seen beer and wine become more accessible and affordable making them more regular purchases when it comes to shopping.

Perhaps campaigns like Feb Fast, Dry July and Ocsober have been introduced to address just how much of a problem alcohol has become.

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As Emily Robinson, director of campaigns at Alcohol Concern, says, “… people often don’t realise that alcohol has become a habit rather than a pleasure, with women having ‘wine o’clock’ most nights of the week.”

There would be some to argue that the societal changes are good for women, but it is also likely that increased exposure to alcohol increases a person’s exposure to health risks from drinking excessively.

How big of an influence was alcohol on you in your 20s and 30s?

Today these changed drinking patterns are being implemented by men and women of 20 and 30 years, but if nothing is done to address the issue the problem will stretch out to their 40s and 50s.

It begs the question, what more can be done to prevent alcohol abuse?

Have you noticed a change in the drinking culture of young adults over the last 30 years? What can be done to better prevent alcohol related health damage? Has alcohol had a negative impact in your life?