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Is Alcohol Use Among Women on the Rise Today?

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Are women drinking more these days?  If so, why is this happening and what can be done about it?  Historically, men have always consumed more alcohol than women.  But, in the last decade, alcohol use among women has increased dramatically.  

In the past, changes in socio-cultural environments had an impact on women’s drinking patterns.  But, the recent COVID pandemic has caused an uptick in alcohol use among both genders.  However, for this discussion, we will look at some of the reasons why women, in particular, are drinking more today.

Reasons for Increased Alcohol Use Among Women

The number of men who struggle with alcohol use disorder (AUD) has always exceeded the number of women with AUD.  But, women are catching up.  The steady uptick in female drinking is surprising and worrisome. 

Here are some of the reasons for the increase in alcohol use among women today:  

Social Reasons

Studies show that a person’s family plays the most significant role in a woman’s drinking behavior.  The stress of raising a family can be a contributing factor.  Also, some women have relatives or friends who drink regularly, which can also be a big influence.  

Other factors can include religion, culture, and work influences.  Furthermore, according to experts, people with higher socioeconomic status (SES) indicators tend to drink more often than others.  The SES indicators include income, education, and occupation.  Since more women are working outside the home these days, they fit into these categories more than ever.  

Many women enjoy a glass of wine after work or before dinner.  But, far too often, one drink often leads to another and another.  Also, some women feel pressured to drink as much as their male counterparts during social gatherings.

Women today are under a lot of pressure to wear many hats.  They try to excel at being a wife, mother, homemaker, and managing a career all at the same time.  This level of stress can fuel her need to self-medicate with alcohol.

Biological Reasons

Women are more susceptible to the effects of alcohol than men because they metabolize alcohol differently than men.  The female body has less body water than a male body.  This makes them absorb more alcohol, faster putting them at increased risk for alcohol abuse or alcoholism.  

Most of the women who are experiencing changes in drinking behaviors today are in their 20s or 30s.  A trend that was previously a 3-1 ratio between men and women is now closer to a 1-1 ratio.  And it doesn’t seem to be slowing down as the pressures of the pandemic continue to disrupt our lives.  

Consequences of Alcohol Use Among Women

Increased alcohol use among women is responsible for higher risk of health problems.  Some of the risks include:

  • Liver damage
  • Hepatitis
  • Brain damage, memory loss
  • Poor decision-making skills
  • Heart disease
  • Breast cancer
  • High blood pressure

Studies show that women who consume only one drink a day have about a 5% to 9% higher chance of developing breast cancer.  As they continue to drink more, the risk escalates exponentially.

Alcohol abuse can also have an aging effect on a person’s skin and hair.  Someone who consumes large amounts of alcohol usually suffers from dry, prematurely wrinkled skin and brittle hair.  For a woman, this complication can be devastating.  No female wants to look older than her years.

Warning Signs of Alcohol Use Among Women

Women who abuse alcohol may display specific warning signs that family members or friends can recognize.  These are some of the signs and symptoms to look for:

  • Uses alcohol to an extent that leads to hazardous behavior.
  • Displays a strong desire to drink alcohol.
  • Lacks interest in activities that were once enjoyable.
  • Unable to control the amount of alcohol consumed.
  • Neglects daily obligations to the family, their job, or relationships.
  • Needs more alcohol than usual to get the desired effects.
  • Experiences withdrawal symptoms when alcohol is unavailable.
  • Consistently drinks more than intended.

Alcohol abuse by women or men can damage relationships, tear apart families, and lead to financial ruin.  Yet, women are less likely to seek help for their AUD than men.  Part of this is due to a fear of being separated from their children while in rehab.  Plus, they worry about being stigmatized by friends, neighbors, or co-workers.

End Alcohol Abuse at Design for Change Recovery

Women who struggle with alcohol use can find the help they need at Design for Change Recovery.  We recognize the pressures a woman faces in today’s uncertain times.  With that in mind, our programs can be adapted to each client’s specific needs to ensure a successful recovery.  

Family therapy is one of our program options that is beneficial not only to the client but to their family members as well.  In these sessions, the family learns to work as a team to improve the family dynamic and support their loved one during treatment and on their return home.  This option will ensure the supportive atmosphere our clients need after treatment.

At Design for Change, we recognize the challenges of alcohol use in women and can provide a comprehensive, JCAHO certified treatment program that is right for their needs.  Our team of compassionate and skilled professionals is dedicated to helping clients reach their recovery goals.  Contact us today at our Lancaster, California facility to learn more about our programs.  


  • –  Social and Cultural Contexts of Alcohol Use
  • –  Alcohol Alert: Are Women More Vulnerable to Alcohol’s Effects?
Is Alcohol Use Among Women on the Rise Today?