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Study: Women increasingly drinking heavily during pandemic

A study found there was a 40% increase in heavy drinking by women, which was double the increase seen in men.

CONNECTICUT, USA — It’s historically a symptom of catastrophes, whether man-made or natural, people turning to alcohol and other substances to cope, de-stress or deal with anxiety.  Dr. J. Craig Allen with Hartford Healthcare says the difference with the pandemic is how long it’s gone on.

“It’s when you start to use it almost exclusively to try and manage these difficult emotions and situations that it can be problematic,” said Dr. J. Craig Allen, Medical Director at Rushford and Vice President of Addiction Services for the Hartford HealthCare Behavioral Health Network.

A RAND Corporation study conducted during the pandemic showed a big increase in drinking among men and women, but there was a 40% increase in heavy drinking by women, which was double the increase seen in men.

“The question is why might that be?  One reason to start with, women are more likely to drink when they’re experiencing negative emotional feelings, so negative states, more likely than men.  But also, there’s a number of other reasons, women are more likely to have lost their job during the pandemic so that increases stress.  They’re more likely to be considered essential workers, so they’re forced to work.  If the kids are at home, women are more often the ones taking care of the kids, managing that homeschooling,” said Dr. Allen.

Dr. Allen says drinking to de-stress has also become socially acceptable with social media pushing slogans like “mommy juice” or “Zoom cocktail hours.”  But he says we’re seeing a lot of physical and psychological problems associated with drinking, so it’s important for women to look at the reasons why they are turning to alcohol.

“Be conscious of how much you’re drinking.  Try to stick to the recommended safe amounts, which for women is seven drinks a week is thought to be safe and no more than three in a single sitting.  If you’re using more than that, then think about cutting back and some strategies to decrease your use, and if you need help with that, talk to your doctor about it,” said Dr. Allen.

Hartford Healthcare has a range of services available for alcohol abuse.  For more information, click here

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