A platform for voices supporting women's rights
Ann Doswett Johnston, a recovering alcoholic and author of “Drink”, explains why female alcohol addiction is on the rise in Western countries.
Regular alcohol consumption by female populations in the West is increasing. Research conducted in the US shows a 10% increase in white women claiming to be “regular drinkers” across ten years, among African American women, the rate rose by 9% and for Hispanic women, it rose by 8%. Women are also considered to drink alcohol differently to men. Whilst men tend to abuse alcohol in social environments, women tend to uncork at home and see their glass of wine as an end of the day “treat”, much like a box of chocolates. But this habit is pushing alcohol dependency higher and creating more and more female alcoholics. So why are women drinking more?
Ms. Johnston considers herself a postergirl for modern female alcoholism. She swore she would never end up like her mother, dropping Valium into her nightly cocktails and seemed to manage her alcohol consumption well throughout her 20’s, 30’s and 40’s. However, upon reaching menopause and moving into a demanding position as Vice-President of McGill University, Ms. Johnston found herself moving from her habitual 1-2 glasses of wine in an evening, to 3 or 4, even 5.
Now in her sixties, Ms. Johnston has published a book on her experiences and has undertaken extensive research into the growing phenomenon of female alcoholism. She believes that societal factors are largely at play. Whilst women are attaining ever more powerful positions thanks to advances in women’s rights and equality movements, women still feel largely compelled to adhere to societal expectations of perfection at work, at home as a wife and parent and also maintain the perfect magazine-prescribed appearance.
This theory is supported by a recent study. Dr. Deidra Roach, a health science administrator in the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism division of treatment and recovery research states that “The gap overall between women and men who have alcohol problems seems to be narrowing…Typically, we know from our population surveys that the people who consume the most are highly educated women with high incomes.”
Alcohol is becoming more affordable and it is increasingly acceptable for women and men to go out with the intention of drinking to intoxication. Drinks companies appear to be jumping on the bandwagon too, their products increasingly targeted at a female consumer, with fruit-flavoured spirits and attractive packaging, it seems that this increase in female alcohol dependency has made women the new exploitable market.