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[Alcohol Forum] , Brennan, Fiona and Timony Meehan, Anne Women and alcohol. (18 Jul 2013)


 Last March Donegal woman Anne Timony- Meehan, Community Mobilisation Officer of the National Charity, The Alcohol Forum led out on the launch of Ireland’s first Alcohol Awareness Week in Dublin. The aim of this was to raise public knowledge of the country’s “harmful drinking culture” and challenge communities to consider their role in tackling it. 

In this week’s feature Anne has provided information that is of particular relevance to women:
  • Alcohol Affects Women differently than Men. WHY?
  • Women and Personal Safety
  • What is a Standard Drink? 
“Women need to be careful and aware when drinking. Having equal rights, does not mean that we are physically capable of keeping up with the boys all the time when it comes to drinking!
While the overall level of drinking in Ireland has decreased in recent years, very many of us continue to drink at a hazardous level. Ireland has the highest level of Binge drinking in Europe (that’s 6 or more standard drinks in any one sitting).
Women now try to keep pace with their male counterparts when drinking. The SLAN study found that for women, those in the 18-29 age category are the most likely to binge drink at least once a week. The most recent Espad report noted the narrowing gender gap in binge drinking among Irish school age youth, with 42% of boys and 44%of girls reporting binge drinking during the previous month.
What many of us are not aware of is that Women are more at risk from the effects of alcohol than men and develop health problems much earlier than men do.
For Example,
  • Women are more prone to liver damage and develop liver disease such as cirrhosis or hepatitis after a shorter period of time and at lower drinking levels than men and are more likely to die from these conditions than men. (Institute of Alcohol Studies 2008)
  • Problematic drinking can cause sexual and reproductive problems including infertility and miscarriage. (Pool & Dell 2005)
  • There are no known safe levels of drinking during pregnancy. Drinking during pregnancy can cause Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder.
  • Even moderate alcohol consumption can be associated with an increased risk of breast cancer.
  • Women who drink heavily are at a higher risk of Alcohol related brain injury.
Why ?
Our biologically make up is partly responsible for the negative effect of alcohol on our system.
Women have a proportionally higher ratio of fat to water in their bodies than men and this means that we are less able to dilute alcohol within the body. If we consume the same amount of alcohol, we will have a higher concentration of alcohol in the blood. The higher the blood alcohol concentration the greater the risks we are taking with our health and safety.
Alcohol also has a major impact on our personal safety! Ever wondered why your usually shy friend ends up dancing on the table after a few drinks?
Alcohol is absorbed into the blood stream from the stomach so within as little as 3 to 7 minutes it has an influence on how we think, the choices we make, and the risks we take. Our reasoning and judgement are affected first. Alcohol lowers our inhibitions and as a result we can take risks and do things we wouldn’t dream off when sober, like dancing on the table, walking home alone, leaving our drink unattended, going off without our mates, taking a lift from a stranger or from a mate who has been drinking......
Simply put, Being drunk makes us more vulnerable to accidents and physical or sexual assaults.
In 2009, ‘Rape & Justice in Ireland’ revealed that 70% of victims of rape and 84% of those accused of rape had been drinking at the time of the assault. These findings indicate that alcohol involvement in rape in Ireland is among the highest in the world.

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