Alcohol Consumption and Misuse on the Rise Among Women

For Employers
Oct 22, 2021
woman and wine

For close to a century, women have been closing the gender gap relative to alcohol consumption, binge drinking and alcohol use disorder. In fact, the drinking patterns between 2002 and 2013 studied by the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAA) found that the frequency of alcohol use disorder among women increased almost 84 percent

While the argument that the total population of women has risen can be mentioned, it’s more than just a numbers game, rather, various other factors responsible for the rise in consumption and misuse of alcohol among women. 

Factors fueling the increase

The COVID-19 ripple effect has certainly been attributed to the elevated rates of alcohol use among women, with research showing that women have been especially susceptible to increasing alcohol use in response to the psychological stressors related to the pandemic. But, there are other factors to consider when examining the rise, including: 

  • External stressors – Women between the ages of 25 and 34 (the age span that encompasses the highest modern rates of alcohol use) face career-related external pressures, workforce demands and difficulties in transitioning from college to the real world.
  • Continued family expectations – While men are becoming more involved in caregiver roles, women still carry the onus of domestic responsibilities. For example, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania found that mothers take on a greater share of tasks, including facilitating their children’s education and a number of household responsibilities. This is especially true of women who work remotely.  This dynamic is consistent with literature from sociologist Arlie Hochschild, in which women were found to work a “second shift.” After they completed their day of paid work, they then spent another full shift doing work at home supporting children, families and home tasks. The pandemic has exacerbated this. 
  • Changing cultural norms and confusing societal messages about women and alcohol – Pop culture seems to celebrate women who drink rather than warn against its dangers. Just take a look at some of the advertising that celebrates drinking and targets women. A cultural shift has made it not only more acceptable but also more attractive to drink. And brands are developed and marketed specifically to women, such as Little Black Dress wine and Skinny Girl Vodka, promoted as “a whole new way to cocktail with low-calorie alcoholic drinks.”

These factors, coupled with the effects of the pandemic have helped to create an undesirable distinction for women. But, when paired with the compounding element of familial roles and responsibilities, societal or legal fears, and without the right support from friends, families and employers, the rise of misuse will continue to be a trend that will continue to designate women as the fastest growing population of alcohol users in the US.

If you are looking for solutions to help solve the problem of addiction and substance use disorders in your organization, Quit Genius can help. 

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