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Alcohol and Women
Women as a group are today drinking more than ever before. Today's women have been drinking since their teenage years in a way neither their mothers or grandmothers ever thought of.
Around 30 per cent of the people drinking too much for their own good in the 1990s are women, more than ever before, compared to10 per cent in the 1950s.

Experts suggest the emancipation of women has brought about this increase in the number of women drinking, and a decrease in social concern about their excesses.

Women drinking as much as men do 30 per cent more damage to their bodies than the same sized men drinking the same amount.

Two groups of New Zealand women drink 78 per cent of alcohol consumed by women. They are:

 Young heavy-drinking women, probably single, in their twenties and mid- thirties, average the equivalent of three 745ml bottles (nine standard drinks) of beer twice a week.

 Frequent at-home drinking women, probably married, around 40, prefer to drink with meals as part of the daily routine, drink around half a bottle of wine every two days.

Women, just as much as men, need to think about the amount of alcohol they consume, how important it is in their lives, its effect on them, and on those around them.

It is not a good idea to combine alcohol with other drugs

Consuming alcoholic beverages simultaneously with other drugs can seriously alter a person’s reaction to alcohol. Combining alcohol with other drugs such as cold or allergy medications, sedatives, tranquillisers, amphetamines, barbiturates, cannabis or cocaine accelerates the alcohol effect on the mind and body. This can create dangerous situations.

Alcohol and pregnancy don’t mix

If a woman drinks during pregnancy, the alcohol in the wine, spirits or beer passes to the developing baby and may damage it. Some babies show signs of damage, especially those born to women who have drunk heavily.

The full range of signs is called foetal alcohol syndrome. When only some signs are present this is called foetal alcohol effects. Signs in babies are:

 Mental retardation
 Shorter height and lighter weight
 Small head
 Facial deformities
 Heart defects
 Joint and limb problems
 Poor condition


 More than five average drinks a week is risky.
 Heavy "binge" drinking should be avoided.
 The more a woman drinks the more chance there is the baby will be damaged.
 The best advice to pregnant women or those planning to have a baby, is don't drink at all, or as little as possible.
 Try winding down or relaxing in ways other than drinking alcohol. Listen to music, go for a walk, talk to a friend, or rest.
 Tell family and friends that alcohol is had for the baby, that you don’t want to drink, and get their help.
 It's important to get help for a drinking problem if you're pregnant. Talk to your doctor about finding a group that could assist.

Reproduced with the kind permission of the New Zealand Police Association

Back to Alcohol Abuse Index

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