How Much Is Too Much?
by Brandy Vandermark-Murray LMHC
Heavy drinking among women has increased over the past decade. Exacerbated by the pandemic, experts say increased opportunity and targeting of females through advertising have contributed to what has become a public health threat. One only has to peruse the array of choices of wine at stores to observe the alluring labeling associated with women and drinking. Images, colors, and taglines such as “Mommy Wine,” “Girls’ Night Out,” “You Go, Girl!”, “Grl Power,” and “Every Day is Women’s Day,” leap out at female shoppers seeking a reprieve from their daily responsibilities. More and more, we see events geared to women that pair wine with activities like yoga or painting.
This is reminiscent of cigarette advertising campaigns directed to making women feel liberated and on par with their male counterparts years ago that promoted similar messaging. I am not here to take on wine manufacturers in their efforts to become wealthier. Nor am I here to warn against enjoying a glass of wine among friends or family. However, I am here to tell you that the increased consumption and normalization of alcohol, and minimizing its risks, is unhealthy and dangerous. I am also here to tell you that the effects of heavy drinking among women are far from liberating.
It might surprise you to know that, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIH), women who consume four or more alcoholic beverages in two hours are binge drinking, and women who consume more than three drinks on any day, or more than seven drinks each week are drinking excessively. Such consumption places women at risk for alcoholism, which can lead to liver, heart, and brain damage, increased depression and anxiety, and difficulty sleeping. Alcoholism affects relationships, leads to increased stress, conflict, unhealthy communication, an inability to properly identify emotions, unhealthy coping skills, unanticipated generational trauma, and behavioral challenges for the entire family unit.
So, what can we do to as a community to alter the course of what we are seeing? How can we help others make better choices and understand the dangers associated with heavy drinking? One way to start is by checking your calendar. What upcoming events and gatherings do you plan to attend? Do they all revolve around alcohol? Are there opportunities to socialize in other ways? Can you commit to being more conscious of your choices? Do you feel like you can freely share your concerns with friends and family members?
If you would like help, Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is a great place to start for those not yet ready for treatment. AA provides a safe space for to share your experiences, and embark on a recovery journey. If so, visit www.buffaloaany.org, and call 716-853-0388. Additionally, if you think you or a loved one would benefit from treatment at Horizon Health Services, learn more about outpatient, detox and stabilization, and residential offerings at www.horizon-health.org, and call 716-831-1800 to schedule an appointment.
Brandy Vandermark-Murray, LMHC is Senior Vice President of Operations at Horizon Health’s Horizon Village.