The latest statistics released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that binge drinking isn't as much of a masculine behavior as some may assume.
According to the government agency, one out of every five high school girls and one out of every eight adult women in the U.S. are going on drinking benders as many as three times a month. Binge drinking consists of downing more than four alcoholic drinks within two hours, according to the CDC.
"It is alarming to see that binge drinking is so common among women and girls, and that women and girls are drinking so much when they do," said Robert Brewer, M.D., M.S.P.H., of the CDC's Alcohol Program. "The good news is that the same scientifically proven strategies for communities and clinical settings that we know can prevent binge drinking in the overall population can also work to prevent binge drinking among women and girls."
To compile these findings, the CDC researchers looked into information on more than 250,000 U.S. women over 18 years of age, as well as an estimated 7,500 girls who were at least 14 years old. Women between 18- and 34-years-old had the most prevalent binge drinking habits compared to other ages, and women who were making $75,000 per year did more binge drinking than other levels of income.
Binge drinking can have serious consequences for women's health. The agency notes that approximately 23,000 women die every year due to circumstances related to binge drinking, and unhealthy levels of alcohol consumption can increase women's risk of poor heart health, breast cancer, sexually transmitted diseases, unwanted pregnancies and pregnancy complications.
Experts mull over possible reasons for increases in binge drinking
In an interview with Time Magazine, Dr. David Jernigan, director of the Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth, noted that the emergence of products sometimes referred to as "girl drinks" – including flavored vodkas, hard lemonade, and others – may be contributing to this trend.
"Those of us involved in alcohol prevention called alcopops ‘beer with training wheels,’” he told the news source. "Women have traditionally drank less than men – and still do – but there has been a very intentional effort to increase it, and this has started exposing young women to products and marketing at high rates. The numbers are not surprising to us, and are of great concern."
Meanwhile, reporting on the CDC's findings, CBS News pointed to a documentary called "Faded," which attributes young women's drinking to peer pressure and stress relief.
Some alternative ideas for stress relief
There are habits individuals could employ for more long-term, healthy stress management than drinking. Getting a solid eight hours of sleep every night, for one example. There are also some natural supplements one could take that are said to reduce stress, such as rhodiola rosea.
There are also some ways to reduce the dangers of a night out drinking, or prevent binge drinking altogether. For example, after having one drink, a person could drink a glass of water before ordering up another adult beverage.