WHY ARE MORE WOMEN DRINKING?

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By Peggy Drexler, Special to CNN

Editor’s note: Peggy Drexler is the author of “Our Fathers, Ourselves: Daughters, Fathers, and the Changing American Family” and “Raising Boys Without Men.” She is an assistant professor of psychology at Weill Medical College of Cornell University and a former gender scholar at Stanford University. Join her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter @drpeggydrexler.

(CNN) — All day long, Lucia looked forward to her favorite weekday ritual: putting the kids to bed, changing her clothes, and pouring herself a generous glass of Pinot Noir. “My friends and I joke that motherhood ‘drives us to drink,’ but sometimes it really does for me,” she said.

“I feel like I need it to unwind,” she said. Most nights she had three or four glasses, though never, she insisted, more than that. “And on nights that I don’t have it,” she said, “I really wish that I did.”

For a long time, Lucia saw nothing wrong with her drinking. It didn’t interfere with her parenting, or her relationships. She got done what she needed to get done. But lately, Lucia had been starting to wonder about her daily habit — looking as forward to it as she did, and the anxiety that consumed her when she could not have it left her feeling unsettled.

Part of her concern related to a history of alcoholism in her family. “My father was an alcoholic, and I always have in the back of my head this idea that I could become one, too; it’s in my genes,” she said.

Although men have historically been heavier drinkers than women, there is plenty of evidence to suggest that the gender gap is shrinking, and fast.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more American women are drinking more heavily than ever before: one in eight women binge drink — defined as six drinks or more in one sitting — about three times a month.

A forthcoming study in the October 2013 issue of the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research found that college-aged women are drinking more often than their male counterparts, confirming a January 2013 study of college students in Spain found female students were more likely to binge drink than male students.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that arrests for women driving while drunk are on the rise, by about 30% from 1998 to 2007. And according to the CDC, white, college-educated woman ages 18 to 24 with $75,000 or more annual household income were more likely to binge drink than women of other races, ages, and socioeconomic categories.

Part of this rise in alcohol consumption may have something to do with young people staying single longer; presumably women are out socializing more often than women their age were likely to do 20 years ago.

Continue Reading: cnn.com

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