Women, Alcohol, and Prevention | Health Eagle

Women, Alcohol, and Prevention

by Lori Sciame April 2nd, 2012 | Health Observance
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As an English teacher, I often host guest speakers on topics designed to make my students think critically. This was the case last week when I invited my college’s Alcohol and Other Drugs Education (AODE) Coordinator to speak on the issue of alcohol.

In honor of Alcohol Awareness Month this April, I’d like to share some insights with you concerning not only college students and alcohol, but alcohol and women.

First, when asked if they drink regularly, every student in my classroom raised his or her hand. My students range in age from 18 – 40, and they do not live on campus, as I teach at a commuter college. Why, then, would the drinking rate among them be so high? I can give you the answer – we live in Wisconsin. In this state, there are more bars than grocery stores! Alcohol remains an integral part of life in this culture. In many regions of the country, people outgrow a fascination with alcohol, but our residents continue to consume large amounts of spirits throughout their lives. Basically, they binge drink regularly.

Binge drinking has a negative effect on men, but it hurts women more. This is because women metabolize alcohol at a different rate. They absorb more alcohol than men while drinking, and it leaves women’s bodies more slowly. Another interesting effect on women is that if they take birth control pills, they feel greater alcohol impairment.

In information provided by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), “Binge drinking is defined as consuming 4 or more drinks per occasion for women…It is a common and dangerous behavior that contributes to more than 11,500 deaths among women in the U.S. each year—approximately 32 deaths per day.”

Alcohol misuse kills women; however, prevention works. The CDC stands behind the idea that women do not have to die an alcohol-related death. They state, “Binge drinking and the harms that result from it can be prevented. Prevention strategies require action at individual and population levels and must consider ways to create community environments that discourage binge drinking by women and their families.”

What does this mean to you? In essence, the CDC states that every woman in the US has the power to help prevent tragedies due to alcohol abuse. First, they urge women who want to become pregnant or who are pregnant not to drink, as no amount of alcohol use is safe during pregnancy. Next, women should say no to binge drinking and encourage their friends to do the same. Finally, women who may have an alcohol problem need to seek help.

I am a full supporter of prevention efforts, as I am the vice-president of a local coalition devoted to lessening the harmful effects of alcohol on residents in my city. Sure, I live in Wisconsin (land of beer and brats), but people can change if they are educated. Hopefully, my students learned a thing or two after this AODE presentation, and I hope you learned something as well in honor of Alcohol Awareness Month.

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