When you think of heavy drinkers you are likely to picture a man taking shots in a dimly lit bar or a frat boy taking “keg stands.” Associations that would be accurate, but men are not the only Americans drinking in unhealthy ways. Women are touched by addiction, and millions of American women struggle with alcohol use disorder (AUD) every year. However, it hardly gets the attention that it deserves.
Alcohol is a dangerous substance, even when used in relative moderation. Due to the drug’s legal status, it is an accepted pastime in the United States. Yet, when recreation turns into addiction society is not all that kind. The stigma of alcoholism prevents many alcoholics from seeking the help they desperately require. In 2015, around 1.3 million adults received AUD treatment, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Of those who received treatment 898,000 were men, which equates to 8.8 percent of the number of males who needed treatment. Only 417,000 women got treatment, 7.5 percent of females who needed treatment.
The lack of people seeking treatment for AUD is troubling, especially when you consider that a new study shows that alcohol use, high-risk drinking and alcohol use disorders, has increased significantly among women leading up to 2015. The findings were published in JAMA Psychiatry.
High Risk Drinking and AUD Among Women
In order to prevent and educate people about the dangers of alcohol, we need to know who is at the greatest risk. This will allow experts to better target their preventive efforts. The new study showed increases in high risk drinking and alcohol use disorder among men as well. Yet, the most significant increases were found with:
- Older Adults
- Racial/Ethnic Minorities
- Individuals with Lower Educational Levels and Family Income
“These increases constitute a public health crisis that may have been overshadowed by increases in much less prevalent substance use (marijuana, opiates and heroin) during the same period. … Most important, the findings herein highlight the urgency of educating the public, policymakers and health care professionals about high-risk drinking and AUD, destigmatizing these conditions and encouraging those who cannot reduce their alcohol consumption on their own, despite substantial harm to themselves and others, to seek treatment,” the authors write in JAMA.
Alcohol use disorders are progressive forms of mental illness. Left untreated typically leads to tragic outcomes. But, much of the heartache typical to alcoholism can be avoided by making the brave decision to seek help, sooner rather than later. If you are a woman who is struggling with AUD, recovery is possible, if you are willing to take certain steps.
At Celebrate Hope at Hope by The Sea, we can guide you to the road of early recovery. Starting with breaking the cycle of alcoholism. You can reach us 24 hours a day, seven days a week for a consultation. Please give us a call.