When It Comes To Alcoholism, Women Are Closing The Gender Gap

Though women are still lagging behind men when it comes to salary, ladies are gaining on dudes in at least one respect: alcoholism. According to a new and comprehensive cross-sectional study of existing data, there has been a substantial increase in general drinking and alcohol dependence among women, particularly Hispanic women, starting with those born after WWII. (Alcohol use and abuse among men has remained consistent over the years.) Experts attribute this increase to a number of factors. Richard A. Grucza, a Washington University School of Medicine epidemiologist and co-author of the data analysis used an "immigration" analogy to explain the up tick in alcohol abuse among women. Grucza tells Science Daily, "We can think of U.S. culture as having been traditionally dominated by white men. As women have 'immigrated' into this culture, they have become 'acculturated' with regard to alcohol use."

What's interesting is that African-Ameircan women have the lowest rates of alcohol abuse, and Grucza attributes this to the fact that by and large, they have yet to "immigrate" into the dominant culture. "Black women...have a second barrier between them and the dominant U.S. culture, namely, their race," Grucza points out. "That may be keeping them from adopting the standards of the dominant culture with respect to alcohol use."

Shelly F. Greenfield, associate clinical director of the Alcohol Abuse Treatment Program at McLean Hospital, suggests that alcohol education programs be designed that are specifically geared towards women, primarily concerning the "gender differences in metabolism of alcohol, and the associated heightened female vulnerability to alcohol's adverse health consequences at lower doses than men."

If Greenfield's suggestions are taken to heart, and alcohol abuse and education programs are formatted for women, they'll probably work, as Amstel Light has proven. When the beer company started advertising their product specifically to women, Amstel Light volume rose 13%, according to USA Today. If we can be enticed to buy beer, we can be enticed not to.

Alcoholism Is Not Just A 'Man's Disease' Anymore [Science Daily]
Women Take Stage In Beer Ads [USA Today]