Women and binge drinking: Expert weighs in

by Maria Zankey

One in eight women in the U.S. participates in binge drinking, according to a recent report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The rate among high school-age women is even higher—one in five—according to the report.

"One of the issues that's really struck us is that is an unrecognized or under-recognized women's health issue," said CDC director Dr. Thomas Frieden during a telebriefing. "Binge drinking is the most common and most dangerous pattern of excess ."

Taylor Anderson is the associate director of Drexel's Behavioral Healthcare Education division and has worked for more than 30 years with individuals struggling with substance abuse. DrexelNow caught up with Anderson to talk about the results of the CDC report and how the effects of binge drinking are unique to women.

How do you identify binge drinking?

Binge drinking is generally characterized by having five or more . Keep in mind a serving of can be 1.5 ounces of liquor, a 12-ounce beer or 3 to 4 ounces of wine.

What are the effects of binge drinking? How does drinking affect women in particular?

There's a biological difference in men's and women's guts that makes men and women metabolize alcohol differently. Men have the capacity to metabolize alcohol faster than women, and that's before taking the average difference of body mass and weight into account. So tend to feel the effects of alcohol quicker than men—on average, after two drinks.

Alcohol affects the brain. Once you feel the , one more drink might seem like a good idea, when it hadn't when you started drinking. It lowers your inhibitions, which puts you at greater risk for [engaging in] dangerous situations. can also cause blackouts, and if lying on your back you can vomit and asphyxiate, and it can even cause death.

The study shows that in rate of binge drinkers is even higher among high school girls. What role does age have in influencing drinking abuse habits among this demographic?

It's not that young people aren't as intelligent as adults—it's that they're less experienced. In the very short life of a young person, six months is a very long time. We still live in a culture where […] girls are under pressure to act a certain way. Drinking can make something seem terribly funny when it normally wouldn't seem that funny, and it can make things seem terribly sad when they normally wouldn't seem that sad. They're not thinking about the long term, they're thinking about how to fit in now. And for a lot of people, drinking can make them feel prettier, funnier, more confident than they normally do—these are things that are appealing to young people, girls in particular.

What tips do you have for someone who thinks she might be a binge drinker or is at risk to become one?

Have a designated driver. The benefits of having a designated driver are not only for the drive home—it's someone who can point out and help stop as they're happening.

If you think there is something you are trying to cover up with the effects of drinking—emotional issues, depression, social anxiety—then you should talk to a professional about how to resolve those issues without alcohol.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Binge drinking serious problem for US women

Jan 08, 2013

Binge drinking is an under-recognized problem for US women, nearly 14 million of whom engage in it about three times a month, downing about six drinks each time, says a study released Tuesday.

Over-65s are frequent binge drinkers: US study

Jan 10, 2012

Binge drinking is more common in the United States than previously thought, particularly among young adults, though the most frequent offenders are over 65, said a US government study on Tuesday.

Recommended for you

Independent safety investigation needed in the NHS

2 hours ago

The NHS should follow the lead of aviation and other safety-critical industries and establish an independent safety investigation agency, according to a paper published today by the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine. The au ...

Sexual fantasies: Are you normal?

6 hours ago

Hoping for sex with two women is common but fantasizing about golden showers is not. That's just one of the findings from a research project that scientifically defines sexual deviation for the first time ever. It was undertaken ...

AMA 'Code of Ethics' offers guidance for physicians

12 hours ago

(HealthDay)—The American Medical Association (AMA) Code of Ethics and other articles provide guidance for physicians in relation to public health emergencies, according to a report from the AMA.

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.