Women drinking

Heavy drinking culture is causing disproportionate harm to women

With reporting from the Toronto Star ||

The Toronto Star has published a new article entitled Heavy drinking has been normalized for women, and it’s killing them in record numbers. The article, by Kimberly Kindy and Dan Keating originally for the Washington Post, claims that young women are both dying or being hospitalized from a significant increase in binge drinking over the last decade.

From the article:

White women are particularly likely to drink dangerously, with more than a quarter drinking multiple times a week and the share of binge drinking up 40 per cent since 1999, according to a Washington Post analysis of federal health data. In 2013, more than a million women of all races wound up in emergency rooms as a result of heavy drinking, with women in middle age most likely to suffer severe intoxication.

This behaviour has contributed to a startling increase in early mortality. The rate of alcohol-related deaths for white women ages 35 to 54 has more than doubled since 1999, accounting for 8 per cent of deaths in this age group in 2015.

The increased hospitalization and mortality is said to be the result a new heavy drinking culture, originally the result of advertising.

White women especially are drinking dangerously — and dying — as U.S. advertisers increasingly pitch edgy visions of women chugging wine, whiskey or vodka for fun, to cope with stress or to keep up with the men.

However as heavy drinking becomes normalized, alcohol consumption is becoming part of the culture of working women and mothers. Marketers are jumping on the trend that it’s funny when women drink heavily.

Women also are frequently shown drinking to cope with daily stress. In one image that appeared on a company website, two white women wearing prim, narrow-brimmed hats, button earrings and wash-and-set hair confer side by side. “How much do you spend on a bottle of wine?” one asks. The other answers, “I would guess about half an hour …” At the bottom is the name of the wine: Mommy’s Time Out.

Another ad on a company website features a white woman wearing pearls and an apron. “The most expensive part of having kids is all the wine you have to drink,” it says above the name of the wine: Mad Housewife.

An ad on the Etsy marketplace website promotes a stemmed glass big enough to hold an entire bottle of wine with the line: “She will be telling the truth when she says ‘I only had 1 glass.’” And Urban Outfitters — a retailer that markets to 18- to 28-year-olds — stocks whole-bottle wineglasses that say: “Drink until your dreams come true” and “This is how you adult.”

Women are more vulnerable than men to the effects of increased alcohol consumption.

…according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, women are more prone to suffer brain atrophy, heart disease and liver damage. Even if a woman stops drinking, liver disease continues to progress in ways it does not in men, said Gyongyi Szabo, a professor at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.

“There is no gender equity when it comes to the effects of alcohol on men versus women,” Szabo said. “Females are more susceptible to the unwanted biological effects of alcohol when they consume the same amount of alcohol and at the same frequency — even when you adjust for weight.”

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