Why Alcohol Is More Dangerous for Women
The real reason women should drink less than men
It’s no surprise to anyone that drinking has increased dramatically as a result of the pandemic. As a pattern, drinking increases with any extreme stressor, and recent market research shows that alcohol sales went up by 55% during the pandemic’s peak.
This increased alcohol use has been particularly notable among women. Though even before 2020, women were beginning to drink more. What many may not realize is that women tend to have worse outcomes from increased drinking — worse outcomes in health issues, psychological consequences, and progression to an alcohol use disorder.
As a recovering alcoholic, former nurse, and middle-aged woman, this topic hits home for me. When I quit drinking five years ago, what made sobriety challenging in part was constantly being bombarded by ads that encourage drinking. In the last decade, we’ve seen a boom in alcohol marketing that specifically targets women. The “mommy wine culture” in particular encourages women to “take care of themselves” by drinking. This feels particularly absurd given that alcohol does anything but take care of one’s health needs. In fact, for women, the health consequences can be devastating.
Women’s drinking: The numbers and the impact
Research shows that women are more likely to drink in excess with increased stress. And, of course, stress has been at an all-time high. One pandemic study showed that stress was the number one reason for women’s increased alcohol intake. In another study of pandemic drinking, 80% of participants reported consuming alcohol at least 10 days in one month, 36.1% reported binge-drinking, and 7% reported extreme binge-drinking during the shutdown. In this study, binge-drinking was classified as drinking more than four drinks on one occasion for a woman and more than five drinks for a man. Extreme binge-drinking refers to binge-drinking 10 or more times in a month.