Alcohol Awareness Month: How Millennial Women Consume And The Issues They Face


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Apr. 18 2024, Published 8:10 a.m. ET

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This is Alcohol Awareness Month, and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse (NIAA) and Alcoholism commemorates it as an opportunity to update our knowledge about alcohol use disorder and its impacts on health and society.

We have pulled together some facts on women and alcohol to help us better understand the impacts of alcohol use and the importance of Alcohol Awareness Month.

Binge Drinking: A Concerning Trend

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 13% of adult women report they participate in binge drinking. Among those women, 25% binge drink at least weekly, and 25% consume at least six drinks when they binge drink, according to the CDC.

According to the National Institutes of Health, the gender difference in binge drinking is declining rapidly, due to a “growing epidemic” of binge drinking among women.

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1. Alcohol affects women differently than men.

While men are more likely to drink more, the biological differences between men and women mean that women are more likely to absorb more alcohol and take longer to metabolize it, according to the CDC. Women and men could drink the same amount of alcohol, but women would have higher blood alcohol levels than men and the immediate effects of alcohol would appear more quickly and last longer than in men.

Women are more likely to get more drunk than men, even if they drink the same amount and weigh the same, according to the Yale School of Medicine, which created a video showing how women’s body composition lead to higher concentrations of alcohol in the bloodstream.

2. Women are more susceptible to long-term negative health effects of alcohol.

According to the CDC, women are at higher risk for cirrhosis and alcohol-related liver diseases, alcohol-related cognitive decline, damage to the heart muscle, and breast cancer than men.

According to Boston University School of Public Health researchers, women who binge drink or develop alcohol use disorder face increased risks for liver disease, alcohol-related injuries and sharper increases in alcohol-related mortality than men.

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3. Childless women at age 35 are at higher risk for binge drinking.

Recent research from Boston University’s School of Public Health showed that women who turned 35 in recent years, as well as women who have not had children by age 35, are at the highest risk of binge drinking and having alcohol use disorder symptoms. Women who turned 35 between 2018 and 2019 were nearly 60 percent more likely to binge drink than women who turned 35 between 1993 and 1997, reflecting a trend toward parenting at older ages: only 39% of women in the 2018=2019 cohort had children before age 30, compared to 54% of women in the 1993-1997 cohort.

4. Many millennial women are embracing sobriety.

A recent Newsweek article featured two millennial women who – after excessive drinking in their 20s  – are embracing sobriety after experiencing “dark suicidal thoughts,” embarrassing bingeing episodes and “hangxiety,” and poor mental health. Rachel Doll, a licensed addiction counselor at Hotel California by the Sea, told Newsweek “hangxiety” increases with age because hangovers last longer, disrupt sleep and ceate a higher risk for anxiety and depression.

If you’re interested in learning more, the NIAA offers a number of research-based resources, including facts about teen drinking, Rethinking Drinking (which offers tips and strategies for cutting down drinking) and a virtual reality educational experience with age-appropriate messages.

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By: Gillian Smith

Gillian Smith is a professional communicator by day and night, leveraging more than a decade in the news industry to share stories that have a positive impact on society. Gillian believes everyone has a story worth telling, and she has made it her professional mission to tell those stories in a responsible way. Gillian received a BA in journalism from Ithaca College and a Master's in Journalism Innovation from Syracuse University. She is currently the director of external communication and media relations at Suffolk University.

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