What Young Women Need to Know About Alcoholism

“Alcohol use disorder” is on the rise among young women. Experts explain why.

From brunch get-togethers to first dates to holiday parties, it’s undeniable that alcohol plays a central role in our social lives. And although many of us know the health benefits of drinking less (Ed Sheeran lost 50 pounds just by cutting out beer), most people are reluctant to stop drinking for more than a month (lookin’ at you Dry January!).

But what most people don’t know is that alcoholism is on the rise and that it’s fast-growing in women, particularly among young women. If this is news to you, we’re here to answer some crucial questions, like who exactly is at risk, what’s behind the shift, and what alcohol-related behaviors should you watch out for.

What the Stats Say

A recent study published in JAMA Psychiatry looked at alcohol use in the U.S. from 2001 to 2002 and from 2012 to 2013, and found that one adult in eight in the U.S. meets the criteria for alcohol use disorder, aka alcoholism. The study looked at people who exhibited signs of either alcohol abuse or alcohol dependence, both of which contribute to meeting the diagnostic criteria for alcoholism. (If you’re curious what qualifies as alcohol abuse or dependence, you can get all the details via the National Institutes of Health.)

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