Sadly More Women are Dying Due to Alcohol Abuse According to New Report. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism recently released a new report at the beginning of the year, which shows a significant increase in deaths among women that are linked to alcohol-related causes over the span of the past twenty years.
This number is both shocking and eye-opening, and when you look at public death certificate data, you will see that approximately 73,000 U.S. citizens died in 2017 due to alcohol-related illness, which is more than double what it was in 1999 when there were 36,000 deaths linked to alcohol-related illness.
When you take a moment to step back and think about that figure — double — you realize that the time period is rather short, at just eighteen years. This statistic alone proves that there is a major problem with alcohol abuse and it’s become significantly worse in recent years.
You can’t just look at the number as a whole — they need to be dissected and analyzed in order to really see where the biggest problems are if the plan is to stop the increase in alcohol-related deaths, and slowly lower the figures year-after-year moving forward.
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism’s study also revealed some shocking information as well, noting that the greatest death increases were in women, middle-aged and up. Overall males had a higher mortality rate, but the real takeaway from the report was the alarming number of women suffering from alcohol abuse.
While there is not a concrete reason for this increase, there are some known factors that are likely to contribute, with the leading one being the fact that females metabolize and absorb alcohol in a different way than males.
Why does that matter? Well, when a male and female drink at the same rate and in the same quantities, the female has a higher risk of complications and issues by default, without any other outside circumstances coming into play.
This is a significant piece of information that isn’t nearly discussed enough and brought to the attention of women. This is something that needs to be explained at an early age, as it can contribute to higher risks of developing liver and breast cancer, as well as heart disease.
Many Women Face Barriers While Seeking Addiction Help
Many health experts also contribute to the many different barriers women face when it comes to seeking help for addiction and alcoholism — barriers that men do not face. According to data from Betty Ford, one of the most notable rehabilitation and addiction centers, they have two male patients for every female patient. Twice as many men seek help from their facilities than women.
Why is this?
Sadly, many women are scared of the potential backlash. There still exists a stigma in our society, where a man will be considered brave for seeking help, while a woman may be looked at as having a “serious problem” by checking into the same treatment program.
Because of this, many feel shame and avoid getting help, which directly contributes to the increased alcohol abuse-related deaths among women.
Some marketing experts have noted that alcohol companies are ramping up efforts to target women, especially in the hard seltzer and wine industries. These drinks are being marketed as the go-to stress relief alternative for all women, from busy moms to college students. The more women that start to drink and consume alcohol in more frequent intervals, the more that will fall to the pitfall of addiction.
There are Not Enough Women-Run Support Groups
One possible solution that many feels would help to reduce the number of females that die from alcohol abuse is increasing the number of support programs available, and more specifically, those that are designed for women, and run by women.
This would provide an option to those that don’t have a strong support system at home or in their personal life. Knowing that there are women-run options will help remove the fear of push-back, and would likely result in more women seeking help.
Over time, this will help eliminate the stigma and treat addiction equally, among males and females. There are programs that pair patients with sponsors and accountability partners, creating a bond that drastically improves attendance at meetings and treatment appointments.
Truthfully, the more acceptable treatment becomes, the more women will come out from the shadows and not be scared of backlash and judgment. Promoting programs on social media is a good start. This helps to paint the “this is normal and perfectly acceptable” narrative that is much needed right now.
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
Just to paint the picture of how deadly alcohol disease and addiction can be when you dive into the report published by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism and sift through all of the information, you learn that in 2017, alcohol was linked to 2.6 percent of all deaths in the United States.
So, for every 100 deaths, almost 3 of them were directly related to alcohol. This is a direct correlation to an increase in the number of people drinking, as well as the frequency in which they consume alcohol.
This data needs to be emphasized and used in awareness-marketing and education towards not only women but all U.S. citizens. An increase in awareness — especially this data — should contribute to less alcohol abuse.
Alcohol-Related Deaths by the Numbers
Sticking with the data from 2017, let’s look at this little breakdown:
Almost 50 percent of alcohol-related deaths resulted from liver disease or overdoses on alcohol alone or combined with other drugs. What does this prove? That almost half of all alcohol-related deaths are self-inflicted.
If those people didn’t abuse alcohol how many would have avoided death? Even just a 10 percent shift would equate to a major difference. Middle-aged women were the segment with the most noticeable spike in deaths, although the report also noted that alcohol-related deaths were up across the board and there was a noticeable problem in all age, race and sex categories.
The bottom line: there are a serious alcohol abuse problems and epidemic, far beyond just women, but there is no denying that steps need to be taken to offer more help for women — death rates increased 85 percent in women, compared to 35 percent in men over a period of time the study took place (1999 – 2017).
Another interesting part of the study was the statement that just one drink a day for women can increase their risk of developing breast cancer. There has been such a push for breast cancer awareness over the years, that this point needs to be emphasized more. Doing so could potentially prevent a lot of women from consuming alcohol on a regular basis, therefore reducing the number of alcoholism cases that evolve into death.
In addition to an increased risk of breast cancer, the study also notes that it contributes to an increased risk of liver and cardiovascular diseases.
The increased alcohol-related female deaths are cause for concern, and reason to address the fact that alcohol use among women has risen steadily over the past two decades.
It’s also important to understand that this report is only analyzing deaths via public death certificates, so the true number of alcohol-related deaths among women could be much higher than reported — not only in death records not available but also due to the fact that alcohol-related deaths are not always documented on death certificates.
There is a major problem at hand, requiring increased educational resources as well as treatment and rehabilitation resources, for women specifically.
Dr. Vikram Tarugu, M.D, is the CEO of Detox of South Florida, Inc and medical professional focused on addiction. A veteran in the medical field with over 25 years of professional experience. He is a consultant for many South Florida Rehab centers. Patients travel from allover the US to seek his help with addiction and Hepatitis C treatment.
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