Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) and episodic binge drinking seems to be on the rise, especially in women. According to several recent panel studies performed – (findings will be published in the December 2011 issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research) social and cultural factors are among the most powerful determinants of alcohol use and other health behaviors. Another factor comes into play as well, it seems that those individuals born after World War II are likely candidates for excessive use of alcohol and developing AUDs. A need for public health assistance in education and prevention, as well as intervention efforts is becoming increasingly evident.
Results show that environmental factors are also an ongoing issue in the contribution of AUDs; policies, laws, social norms, political instability and availability all stand to affect the underlying risk of binge drinking among this particular age group. Richard A. Gruzca, an epidemiologist at Washington University School of Medicine agreed with the findings. “Other aspects unique to a particular society at a given time, such as alcohol prices and availability, can be influenced by raising alcohol excise taxes or restricting liquor store hours and thus shape alcohol use.”
Science Daily reported that reviewed and published studies based on birth cohorts (panel studies) and gender differences in alcohol consumption, body metabolization, alcohol disorders and mortality revealed that the gender gap in alcohol issues are narrowing in several countries. However, in Western Europe and Australia this study did not prove true. Gruzca explained, “The U.S. differs from Western Europe and Australia in that we have a fairly large number of people who don’t drink at all. Europe and Australia, on the other hand, have historically had few ‘teetotalers’. Over time, we see the number of non-drinkers in the U.S. decreasing, whereas alcohol use has always been more pervasive in some other Western cultures. Social and cultural changes specific to women in western cultures during the past 50 to 60 years are too numerous to count.” The societal factors in respect to the changes in the dynamic of women’s freedoms concerning opportunities that at one time were only afforded to men, (workforce participation, higher education, and further economic independence) has allowed women to play a much larger role in drinking cultures.
Although several individual studies completed in the past have suggested that women in particular are susceptible to developing an addiction to alcohol, Gruzca believes that this recent review combines all of the evidence needed for clinicians and public health officials to be on the alert. With genetic contributions lending a hand, significant research and treatment methods must be instituted in order to better educate the population about the role economic independence and employment plays in respect to alcohol use. All reviews completed were based upon 31 peer-reviewed studies looking at causation or origination concerning gender differences and the likelihood of people born after World War II as possible influences surrounding the increase in binge drinking and AUDS.