The COVID-19 pandemic has profoundly impacted many aspects of our lives, including our relationship with alcohol. For women in particular, the stress and isolation have led to significant changes in drinking behavior. Some women have turned to alcohol to cope with anxiety and depression. It’s important to examine how the pandemic has shaped women’s drinking behaviors and what we can learn from these changes to promote healthy habits and support those struggling with alcohol use.
Ways Culture Perpetuates Women’s Drinking Habits
Let’s talk about the impact of advertising on women and alcohol. Alcohol advertising spending is set to hit 6 billion dollars in 2023 with the advertising of alcohol to women as a key industry focus for the last 60 years. Sadly, the marketing strategies used by alcohol companies often target women, portraying alcohol as a solution to stress, socializing, and self-expression.
Content analysis suggests that many alcohol advertisements link drinking with valued personal attributes such as sociability, elegance, and physical attractiveness and with desirable outcomes such as success, relaxation, romance, and adventure. These advertisements can have a harmful impact on women, who are more likely to be influenced by them.
Knowing more about how culture influences women’s drinking habits can actually make a big difference in encouraging responsible drinking and avoiding harmful effects.
The Connection Between Women’s Mental Health, Stress, and Alcohol Use
We all experience stress and depression sometimes. Did you know it can lead to unhealthy coping mechanisms like alcohol use and binge drinking? The pandemic has amplified these feelings, and many women turn to alcohol to cope. But drinking can worsen mental health, leading to a cycle of dependence.
According to a study, stress is strongly associated with all phases of alcohol addiction, including drinking initiation, maintenance, and relapse for both women and men, but plays an especially critical role for women.
Despite the negative impact on women’s physical and mental health, statistics indicate that alcohol consumption has increased since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. Let us take a closer look at some of these statistics.
How Women’s Alcohol Consumption Has Changed Since 2020
Based on recent studies, here are three statistics based on the increase in women drinking alcohol from 2020 to the present:
- According to SAMHSA, since 2015, binge alcohol use for females has been defined as drinking four or more drinks on the same occasion on at least 1 day in the past 30 days.
- According to a study from KFF, symptoms of anxiety and/or depression were also elevated among women at 36% compared to men at 28% in February 2023.
- The Rand Research Corporation found that Americans drank 14 percent more in 2020 — the rate for women rose by 41 percent.
To view more facts about alcohol, check out Alcohol Awareness: 20 Key Facts.
These statistics highlight the increasing alcohol consumption among women during the pandemic, which may negatively affect their mental and physical health.
How Alcoholism Affects Women’s Health Over Time
Alcoholism can have serious long-term effects on women’s health. According to National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), women’s health can be affected in the following ways:
- Drinking heavily increases the risk of liver disease, heart disease, and breast cancer.
- Drinking during pregnancy can cause harm to the unborn baby.
- Women may be more susceptible to alcohol-related brain damage than men.
The pandemic has caused unprecedented stress and anxiety levels, leading many women to use alcohol as a coping mechanism. But there are healthier ways to manage these feelings and resources available for support.
Find Help for Alcohol Dependency
To learn more about the signs and symptoms of alcohol addiction, talk to a professional trained in diagnosing and treating the disease. At Valley Hope, experts are available to answer questions in complete confidence 24/7.
Unsure if you or someone close to you has a problem with alcohol? How do you know for sure? The signs are not always as obvious as you might think. The medical and counseling staff at Valley Hope can provide a professional diagnosis and, if needed, treatment recommendations.
If you need help immediately, the Valley Hope team is available 24/7 at (800) 544-5101, or find a Valley Hope location near you. If you or a loved one are ready to stop drinking, visit valleyhope.org and begin your journey to a healthy, happy life in recovery today.