Academic journal article Alcoholism and Psychiatry Research

Characteristics of Female Drinking by Age

Academic journal article Alcoholism and Psychiatry Research

Characteristics of Female Drinking by Age

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

The etiology of alcoholism is much discussed and debated today and it is not possible to speak of a single cause of alcoholism. Many studies have shown that alco- hoilsm is not hereditary, although there are families in which it is more frequent. The causes of alcoholism are found primarily in the person itself, and then in its immediate and wider social environment. Increased intake of alcoholic beverages, as well as alcoholism among women is certainly a consequence of the position that women have in society, as well as of a number of other cultural specificities of the communities in which women live. Etiologic factors for alcoholism can be divided into three groups: biological factors (hereditary, metabolic, neuropsychological, neurobiological and other organic factors), psychological factors (effects of alcohol, for example, in its ability to relieve tension) and socio-cultural factors (characteristics of the health and general culture of the community in which one lives). Although all three groups of factors are important for the development of alcoholism, the third group is considered to be the most important.1

Many factors in a woman's life, such as those associated with her education or career, occur in different periods of her life and some of them may represent the risk factors for the development of problem drinking, that occurs only in a certain period of life. It is obvious that all women are not equally vulnerable to the development of problem drinking. Certain behaviors and genetic predisposition may increase the risk of developing harmful drinking patterns. Risk factors are certain markers that indicate increased vulnerability and are usually preceded by drinking, but sometimes they are just linked to problem drinking and cannot be called risk factors. Some risk factors are present throughout the life cycle of women, while some are specific only to certain stages of life, such as adolescence, young middle age, middle age and old age. The role of women in society can be a risk factor. Social roles for women and men are primarily defined by age, sex, socio-economic status and ethnicity.2 It is important to classify risk factors by stages of life because it is necessary to focus the prevention differently for the periods of adolescence, middle and old age. Hill states that one of the evident risk factors for a higher likelihood of developing alcoholism in women and in men is certainly a family history of alcoholism. Gomberg study of alcoholic women in 1986. showed a significantly higher proportion of fathers of alcoholics in a population of women who are alcoholics.2

The social context in which women drink is also of great importance. During adolescence, girls are more influenced by peers who drink then young men, and exposure group significantly contributes to alcohol abuse in adolescents. Drinking patterns of young, mature and older women are under the influence of the environment.2 Copying drinking patterns of significant people from the environment is specific for women, so the results of the research show that more women than men, who are dependent on alcohol have husbands or significant people in their environment who are also alcoholics. Depression, together with the woman's reactions to stressful life events and her ability to cope with them may be risk factors for drinking among women. Previous depression is a clear risk factor for the development of problem drinking. Heizer et al. state that depression preceded alcoholism in 66% of women who were interviewed in their epidemiological study. Stress, anxiety and coping techniques are central to the development of problem-drinking in women. Conte et al report that stressful events such as trauma may precede problematic drinking in women, because one of the many techniques of coping with stressful events can be drinking, as well as seeking help.2 Certain techniques for coping with stress, such as avoidance, denial and blaming others are more common in women who drink. …

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