As a woman with a propensity to drink lots and lots of alchohol (the first time I got drunk, at age 14 off a six-pack of Zimas, I felt like liquid gold was pumping through my veins and wondered why no one had told me there’s magical potion out there and it’s legal and you can buy it at your local convenience store)m, I’m never surprised by studies reporting the fact that people are drinking a lot. But as a person who is trying to be a functioning member of society who’s not perpetually alternating between a mild poison-induced euphoria and permanent hangover, I’m intrigued and disturbed to hear people are more desperate than ever to escape reality. But I’m not surprised.
A study conducted by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, reported by Time (so you know it’s reputable), says we have a “public health crisis” on our double-fisting hands. They compared two groups of people from two different recent eras: One from 2001-2002, another from 2012-2013. Apparently, a decade makes a substantial difference: 11% of an alchol-consuming increase, to be exact. But it’s what’s considered to be “high-risk drinking,” defined by having at least four or five drinks per day at least once a week, that’s increased by 30% – and that’s kind of a lot. Also known as binge-drinking, it’s up in men by 15% and women by a whopping 60%. Theories on what’s inspired more women to order a fourth margarita or guzzle their own entire damn bottle of Barolo (let’s try to get away from the “ladies love to drink Chardonnay” cliché, please) – because, let’s remember, a full bottle of wine contains just under six glasses – include typical socioecomomic factors: “Unemployment, residential segregation, discrimination, decreased access to health care, and increased stigma associated with drinking.” Well, the last one certainly makes sense: You drink in order to forget you’re being judged for drinking. Or maybe we’re just bored.
On the flip side, there is some good news for my fellow lushes: Yet another (more encouraging) study indicates those who drink in moderate amounts seem to have a lower risk of several – not all, mind you – heart conditions, including heart failure and stroke, compared to their stone-cold sober counterparts. The U.K.-based study of nearly two million people determined women who have one drink a day and men who have two, are the best off, heart-wise. Science: Sometimes it gives you the answers you want to hear, but apparently men will always get the blessing to knock back one more. Just don’t tell that to Queen Elizabeth II, not that she cares what you or your study think.