Editorial

Older women catching up in alcohol abuse

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb have drawn criticism for their on-air morning drinking, and although the wine glasses on the Today Show desk are mostly a light-hearted prop, excessive drinking among women their age is no laughing matter.

The latest proof comes from an Office for National Statistics report in the United Kingdom, as reported by the Daily Mail.

Baby-boomer women, in their early 60s, are dying from alcohol at a rate more than a third higher than they did at the most recent turn of the century.

According to the ONS, 18.9 of every 100,000 women between 60 and 64 died from causes directly attributable to alcohol, up from 14 in 2001.

They have a long way to go to catch up with men, who die at the rate of 40.3 per 100,000, but the male rate was up by less than 25 percent, compared to a 35 percent female increase.

Women in their late 50s were dying at a rate 30 percent higher, while the death rate among men of the same age declined between 2001 and 2016.

Granted, England is not the U.S., but, unfortunately, weíre keeping up, according to a study by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

The NIAAA studied drinking patterns among 65,000 men and women 60 and older between 1997 and 2014, and found that the percentage of women who binge-drink jumped almost 4 percent per year, while the rate for men held steady, albeit at almost four times the rate.

Men need to consume five or more drinks in two hours to achieve a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 or above and be considered binge drinking, while women need four or more drinks.

Study authors speculated that older women were drinking for reasons such as loneliness, outliving their spouses, financial concerns in retirement, caregiving stress and the empty nest syndrome.

Others see reasons such as increased stress that accompanies greater work opportunities, a reduced stigma against women drinking and more alcohol advertising directed at them.

Cardiovascular disease, once considered a manís disease, is now the leading cause of death among women.

Changing, too, is the stereotype of the alcoholic male. Women and their families who need to be on the lookout for signs of addiction and be ready to take steps to keep it from turning into a tragedy.

Nebraska resources for those seeking help for alcohol or substance abuse can be found here: http://bit.ly/2hStnUU

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