Women Catching Up to Males in Binge Drinking

11/18/2012

Women binge drinking photo

More women than ever are in danger of AUDs or alcohol related disorder, the result of binge drinking. A study to be published in the journal Clinical and Experimental Research looked at not only the increase in women binge drinking, but the personality traits that are likely to lead to it. 

On the Rise

"In the last 30 years, young women have been 'catching up' to young men in that binge drinking has been increasing in this group," said Monika Kardacz Stojek, a graduate student in the department of psychology at the University of Georgia as well as corresponding author for the study on Science Daily. "Drinking habits often form in young adulthood, so if a young person gets into the habit of drinking heavily, it may be harder for her to break this habit as an adult. Additionally, because of physiological differences between men and women, women may have more immediate and severe physical symptoms if they consume as much alcohol as a binge-drinking male peer in a short amount of time."

Alcohol abuse in college age women is associated with impaired academic performance, risk of injury, sexual assault, and increased risk of death. Researchers looked at women in their first semester of college because it is considered an “informative developmental period" to study the risk of dependance down the line. 

The study looked at 319 college age women, 235 of which drank. They were given the short-form Michigan Alcoholism Screening Test (S-MAST): 13 questions regarding behavior around alcohol. 

Planning Ahead Before Drinking

"We found that negative urgency, an impulsivity trait which describes a tendency to act rashly when experiencing negative emotions, predicted increases in symptoms of AD in young women across their first semester of college," said Stojek on Science Daily. "Additionally, lack of deliberation, an impulsivity construct indicating acting without thinking, predicted increases in symptoms of AD across the first semester of college in young adult women. Finally, women who had high negative urgency and stated that they wanted to drink to alter emotional experiences (either to enhance positive feelings or get rid of negative feelings) at the start of the semester, had the biggest increases in symptoms."

Women who act rashly when distressed and think alcohol will help them deal with it are more likely to have alcohol-related issues. This is also the case with women who do not plan ahead. For example, a woman that goes to a party with friends but does not plan out how she will get home and ends up driving drunk or riding with a drunk driver. 

Binge drinking among both sexes has become a costly problem in the U.S. It’s a widespread issue that results in 80,000 deaths and cost the U.S. $223.5 billion in 2006. Drinking too much, including binge drinking, cost $746 per person, or $1.90 a drink, in the US in 2006. These costs include health care expenses, crime, and loss of productivity.

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Sara Novak writes about health and wellness for Discovery Health. Her work is also regularly featured in Breathe Magazine and on SereneKitchen.com. She has written extensively on food policy, food politics, and food safety.


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