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Why Alcohol Abuse is on the Rise for Women

2 min read · 4 sections

Why Alcohol Abuse is on the Rise for Women

The number of men with alcohol use disorder exceeds the number of women with with the disease, but research indicates that women may be narrowing the gap.1 In fact, among adults, alcohol use is increasing for women but not for men.2 So, why is alcohol consumption on the rise for women? Let’s take a look at some contributing factors.


Alcohol misuse, which includes binge drinking and heavy drinking, increases the risk of harmful consequences, including alcohol use disorder.3

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) defines binge drinking as a pattern of drinking alcohol that brings blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to 0.08%—or 0.08 grams of alcohol per deciliter—or more. While alcohol affects everyone differently, alcohol affects women sooner and in smaller amounts because on average, women weigh less than men.3

In general, binge drinking is consistent with the pattern of consumption of 5 or more drinks in 2 hours for men and 4 or more drinks in 2 hours for women. Additionally, heavy drinking, according to the NIAAA means:3

  • Women: 4 or more drinks in a day or 8 or more in a week.
  • Men: 5 or more drinks in a day or 15 or more drinks in a week

Additionally, studies show that among U.S. women who drink, approximately 1 in 4 have engaged in binge drinking in the past month, averaging about 3 binge drinking episodes per month and 5 drinks per episode.4


Research suggests that women view alcohol as a pleasurable and important aspect of their social lives. And social media plays an inherent part in all of it as individuals share photos cocktails, drinking, and parties online. This is especially true for younger women.5

Mental Health

Depression is a common and serious illness. A study, conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, shows that 1 in 10 women in the United States reported symptoms that suggested they experienced an episode of major depression in the year prior to the study.6

Another study linked women with major depressive episode and/or anxiety disorder with a higher prevalence of substance use, including alcohol use. This is known as co-occurring disorders and is not uncommon.7


Research shows that alcohol may be more detrimental to women’s health than it is for men. According to NIAAA, women who misuse alcohol are at higher risk for health conditions such as liver damage, heart disease, brain injury, and breast cancer. Drinking during pregnancy also carries significant risks, and prenatal exposure to alcohol can result in physical, cognitive, and behavioral problems in children.6

If you think you or someone who love may be struggling with alcohol misuse or addiction, call American Addiction Centers (AAC) at . Speak to one of our compassionate and knowledgeable admissions navigators, who can listen to your story, explain your options, answer your questions, and help you start your journey to recovery.


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