Binge drinking on the increase for women, the new CDC report shows

The U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a new report in January of 2013, stating that women’s binge drinking has been on the increase during the last few years, which can have destructive consequences for their health and lives. 

According to the survey, binge drinking among women is overlooked and can constitute a much bigger problem than most people tend to think it is. The report defines binge drinking in women as ‘consuming four or more alcoholic drinks in a single setting’. The findings show that about 1 in 8 adult women binge drink with 24 per cent of them being college-aged, and that  nearly 14 million U.S. women binge drink about three times a month.  One in five high school girls drink excessively and the age between 18 and 34 seems to be the usual age at which women prefer to overindulge.  What is shocking and surprising is that binge drinking is the cause of about 23,000 deaths among women and girls in the U.S. each year.

A close look at the CDC statistics shows that the percentage of women who reportedly fit the criteria of binge drinking has been constantly increasing since 1995 in both Ohio and other US states.

In addition, the research indicates that binge drinking is a habit far more prevalent among highly educated women. According to the New York Magazine, college is the most suitable and welcoming ground for excessive drinking habits and usually women constitute the majority of those severely affected by binge drinking.

The CDC report suggests that women are much more vulnerable towards alcohol consumption, because their bodies and metabolism respond differently to alcohol than those of men. Women can become easily intoxicated after consuming less alcohol than men, because of the way their bodies process the quantities of alcohol entering their organism: ‘Women’s bodies generally don’t have as many of the enzymes that digest alcohol’ says Maureen Shackleford, a registered dietician at Anne Arundel Medical Center.

Binge drinking among women can have alarming consequences regarding their health, social life  and emotions, the report warns. It is estimated that around 14 million women who binge drink in the U.S, put their health seriously in danger, as they are in extreme risk for breast cancer, heart diseases, sexually transmitted diseases and unintended pregnancies. Binge drinking is also closely associated with date rape and sexual violence, as excessive amounts of alcohol substances usually impair women’s control and clear vision over different situations, especially situations having to do with unwanted sexual encounters.  The report also says that pregnant women who binge drink put the health of their unborn child in serious danger, as there is a risk of fetal-alcohol spectrum disorders and sudden-infant-death syndrome.

Socially, binge drinking has become a kind of a culture, a way for women to liberate themselves and feel equal to men, by endorsing the same drinking habits. Corporate culture in the western world also promotes binge drinking as a way of entertainment between colleagues and clients. It is certain that the extent to which this habit can actually destroy women’s sense of control over their behaviour and their bodies is not yet recognised. Binge drinking is quite ignored and its danger and risky outcomes are not clearly articulated. It is crucial that women are informed and educated about the risks and serious impacts of binge drinking.

(See this chart showing the rise of binge drinking among women in Ohio and U.S.A: