Binge drinking by females

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued a new report regarding binge drinking among women and high school girls. Binge drinking is defined as having five or more drinks on one occasion.

The reason binge drinking among females is such an issue? It’s a risk factor for unintended and alcohol-exposed pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, and a whole host of health and social problems among women and girls. Let’s list a few: fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, late recognition of a pregnancy resulting in late pre-natal care.

Let’s look at some numbers from the study that was conducted in 2011. Among women older than 18, binge drinking occurred more than three times a month with almost six drinks consumed on that one occasion – and, one in eight women were binge drinking. Among high school girls, one in five girls are binge drinking almost four times a month, with more than six drinks being consumed.

Alcohol consumptions by high school girls strongly correlates to alcohol consumption by adult women. A couple of assumptions here: Youth are seeing adult behavior as acceptable, and they’ll mimic that behavior. Youth often obtain alcohol from adults – often unknown to the adult – for the first couple of times. Access to alcohol plays a huge part in students’ drinking. Cultural factors – “it’s only booze” – plays a huge part in students’ drinking as well.

A few limitations need to be considered with this study:

(1) In this study, binge drinking was defined as five drinks, which includes men and boys. The latest definition distinguishes between the sexes: binge drinking for women and girls is now defined as four drinks. And if we make that distinction, then binge drinking among women and girls increases by one-third.

(2) The Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System and the Youth Risk Behavior Factor Surveillance System are self-report telephone surveys. We can only hope individuals are speaking truthfully when asked questions.

The Mental Health and Recovery Services Board of Seneca, Sandusky and Wyandot Counties is committed to sharing information and resources for better mental health and the prevention of substance abuse. If you would like more information, please call the Mental Health and Recovery Services Board of Seneca, Sandusky and Wyandot Counties at (419) 448-0640 between the hours of 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays. The board’s funded hotline is available 24/7 at (800) 826-1306.

Nancy Cochran,

executive director,

Mental Health and Recovery Services Board