I was listening to a fascinating podcast on CBC with Anna Maria Tremonte entitled – yes you guessed it – The Rise of Binge Drinking in Women. There were a number of alarming statistics and fascinating perspectives that were shared.
Without overwhelming you with a lot of stats, I’ll focus on what concerned me most: 30% more women engage in risky drinking (five or more standard drinks on one occasion) than just a decade ago. This includes women in the 25-34 year age group – the prime child bearing age for women.
This clearly has a tremendous impact on women, with increased risk of breast cancer, cardiovascular disease and other chronic diseases. It also can lead to serious issues for the unborn child (Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder or FASD).
The media, social norms and our “Alco genic society”, as Anne Dowsett Johnston pointed out, are largely driving this increasing trend. The rise of the Alco pops and marketing targeted directly at women (particularly young women) in the late 80’s and early 90’s has truly had an impact. More recently, there has been a proliferation of new products geared to women – Girls Night Out, Skinny Girl and Mommy Juice, to name a few.
The concern is not that women are drinking. As Gerald Thomas from the Canadian Centre for Substance Abuse points out the concern is that women, as a result of their biological make up, are more susceptible to alcohol related harms.
Can we keep up with the men, or as Kim Siegal would say, Lean In? Sure we can. But we don’t need to prove ourselves by going toe-to-toe or more accurately drink-for-drink.