September 19, 2011

What Drives You to Drink?

(Ivanhoe Newswire) — What makes us reach for a drink? Do people get influenced and pushed to start drinking by certain circumstances, or is there something else?

According to the Washington University School of Medicine, drinking can be influenced by personal and societal factors, including economic fluctuations, political instability, and social norms. Apparently, these norms can even vary among countries and different time periods, leading to different “drinking cultures.” A review of 31 peer-reviewed and published studies looked at birth-cohort and gender differences in alcohol consumption, alcohol disorders, and mortality. Analysis showed that people born after World War II are more likely to binge drink and develop alcohol use disorders (AUDs), and that the gender gap in alcohol problems is narrowing in many countries.

"The literature on alcohol consumption indicates that younger birth?cohorts, especially women, are increasingly at risk for the?development of AUDs. Given that alcoholism among women is increasing, there is a need for specific public health prevention and intervention?efforts. Further, results suggest the?environment increases risk for alcoholism. While AUDs have a substantial genetic?contribution, birth-cohort effects indicate that factors in the?environment such as policies, laws, social norms, availability, and?broader social context also contribute substantially to underlying?risk for AUDs in the population," post — doctoral fellow in epidemiology at Columbia University was quoted saying.

“Social and cultural factors are among the most powerful determinants of alcohol use and other health behaviors, for example, one approach to intervention for high-risk drinkers, particularly in younger age groups, is to make them realize that they consume quite a bit more alcohol then their peers. The realization that one's behavior falls outside of a generally accepted 'social norm' often results in behavioral change. Other aspects unique to a particular society at a given time, such as alcohol prices and availability, can be influenced by raising alcohol excise taxes or restricting liquor store hours and thus shape alcohol use,” epidemiologist at Washington University School of Medicine Richard A. Grucza was quoted saying.

The review showed that alcoholism among women in United States is a rising problem. Now when women have the opportunity to participate in a workforce, get higher education, and have economic independence from men, women as well employed similar drinking habits to men. However, women are still more vulnerable and have a greater risk of getting chronic diseases rather than men.

Source: Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research