Alcohol Use And Binge Drinking Among Georgia Women

Consumption of past month Alcohol Use and Binge Drinking among women in Georgia

Excessive alcohol consumption among women are of special concern to public health. In Georgia, excessive drinking of alcohol results in 2,555 deaths and 79,183 years of potential life lost each year (1). Many adverse health outcomes associated with excessive alcohol consumption in women which include cancer, heart disease, stroke, liver cirrhosis, preterm birth (5,7), fetal alcohol syndrome (3), and unintentional and intentional injuries (2).  Although studies have been conducted on alcohol consumption of women in U.S., there is limited data on alcohol drinking patterns or changes in demographic shifts for alcohol drinking patterns among women in Georgia. Therefore, this study was conducted to compare alcohol consumption patterns of women in Georgia reported in 2011 with those reported in 2016.

The study used secondary data from telephone interviews of 14362 adults aged ≥18 years residing in Georgia; that participated in the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) survey in 2011 and 2016. Overall, 8977 women were analyzed. Measures focused on alcohol use and binge drinking and on the intensity of binge drinking in the past 30 days.  Prevalence and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) for past month alcohol use (in the past 30 days) and binge drinking (4+ drinks on more than one occasion) by the study population were estimated overall and then analyzed. Among the surveyed women (N=8977), overall past month alcohol use showed a significant decrease in relative risk (2.5%, p<0.0001, Table1) from 2011 to 2016.  However, significant increase in relative risk of past month alcohol use from 2011 to 2016 were found among women 65 years and older (41.8%, p <0.0001, Table 1) when compared to other age groups.  Similarly, significant decline in the relative risk (12.6 %, p<0.0001, Table 2) of binge drinking among surveyed women from 2016 to 2011.  However, significant increase in relative risk of binge drinking among women 65 years and older (145%, p<0.0001, Table 2) when compared to other groups from 2011 to 2016.


Alcohol is a risk factor for women for adverse health conditions.  Overall, the findings showed that past month prevalence of alcohol use among women significantly decreased from 43.6% in 2011 to 42.5% in 2016 for Georgia. This is lower than the national estimates of past month alcohol use (57%) and 2016 (54%) in 2013.  However, significant increase in the relative risk of past month alcohol use (41.8%) and binge drinking (percent change: 145 %) was seen among subgroup populations, particularly notable among women who are 65 years and older. Older adults are at particular risk for falls and injuries (6) and the unintentional injury death rate (8) ED-treated falls (9) hospitalized fall rates (2) and fall-related traumatic brain injury deaths (10). In 1990, those over the age of 65 comprised 13 percent of the U.S. population; by the year 2030, older adults are expected to account for 22 percent of the population. (U.S. Bureau of the Census 1996). As the population age 60 and older increases, there could be the potential for increase in the rate of alcohol consumption patterns leading to alcohol-related risks in this age group.


  1. Alcohol and Public Health: Alcohol-Related Disease Impact (ARDI) [database]. Accessed Dec 13, 2013.
  2. DeGrauw X, Annest JL, Stevens JA, Xu L, Coronado V. Unintentional injuries treated in

hospital emergency departments among persons aged 65 years and older, United States, 2006-2011 J Safety Res. 2016;56:105-109.

  1. Ethen MK, Ramadhani TA, Scheuerle AE, et al. Alcohol consumption by women before and during pregnancy. Matern Child Health J 2009; 13:274–85.
  2. Grant, B. F., Chou, S. P., Saha, T. D., Pickering, R. P., Kerridge, B. T., June Ruan, W., Zhang. (2017). Prevalence of 12-Month Alcohol Use, High-Risk Drinking, and DSM-IV Alcohol Use Disorder in the United States, 2001-2002 to 2012-2013: Results from the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions. JAMA Psychiatry, 74(9), 911.
  3. Hingson R, White A. New research findings since the 2007 Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Prevent and Reduce Underage Drinking: A review. J Stud Alcohol Drugs. 2014;75(1):158-169. PMID: 24411808.
  4. Kramarow E, Chen LH, Hedegaard H, Warner M. Deaths from Unintentional Injury Among Adults Aged 65 and Over: United States, 2000-2013. NCHS Data Brief 199. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics, 2015.
  5. Rehm J, Baliunas D, Borges GLG, et al. The relation between different dimensions of alcohol consumption and burden of disease: an overview. Addiction. 2010;105(5):817-843.
  6. Stevens JA, Rudd RA. Circumstances and contributing causes of fall deaths among persons aged 65 and older: United States, 2010. J Am Geriatr Soc. 2014;62(3):470-475.
  7. Sung KC, Liang FW, Cheng TJ, Lu TH, Kawachi I. Trends in unintentional fall-related traumatic brain injury death rates in older adults in the United States, 1980-2010: a join point analysis Neurotrauma. 2015;32(14):1078-1082.
  8. White A, Castle IJ, Chen CM, et al. Converging patterns of alcohol use and related outcomes among females and males in the United States, 2002 to 2012. Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 2015;39(9):1712-1726. PMID: 2633187


Table 1: Prevalence of and Percent change in 1- month Alcohol Use for Women in Georgia, U.S. by Sociodemographic characteristics, 2011 and 2016

Characteristic                 BRFSS Survey



              BRFSS Survey




% Change
  % (95% CLa) p-value % (95% CLa) p-value  
Total 43.6 (41.7-45.5) <0.0001 42.5% (40.1-45.0) <0.0001 -2.5
18-24 49.8(41.0-58.6)   46.0(39.6-52.4)   -7.6
25-44 52.0(48.6-55.3)   56.3(52.8-59.7)   8.2
44-65 42.1(39.7-44.5)   48.6(45.8-51.5)   15.4
65+ 23.4(21.0-25.7) <0.0001 33.2(30.6-35.9) <0.0001 41.8
Race /Ethnicity          
White/Non-Hispanic 46.2(44.0-48.5)   45.8(42.6-48.9)   -0.9
Black/Non-Hispanic 41.2(37.2-45.1)   39.8(35.2-44.4)   -3.3
Hispanic 33.1(24.4-41.7)   33.9(24.9-42.9)   2.4
Other 41.0(30.8-51.1) 0.0102 34.1(21.9-46.3) 0.0140 -16.8
No High School 22.6(17.4-27.9)   29.7(24.5-35.0)   31.4
High School 38.0(34.2-41.7)   39.3(35.9-42.7)   3.4
Attended College 44.7(41.1-48.3)   52.5(49.1-56.0)   17.4
College or technical school graduate 62.6(59.7-65.4) <0.0001 64.5(61.8-67.3) <0.0001 3.0
<$15,000 39.9(34.8-45.1)   23.7(17.3-30.2)   -4.0
$15,000-$25,000 44.6(40.7-48.6)   28.0(22.7-33.4)   -3.7
$25,000-$35,000 44.4(39.5-49.2)   41.5(33.1-49.9)   -6.5
$35,000-$50,000 51.1(46.7-55.5)   46.5(39.6-53.4)   -9
>=$50,000 63.7(61.4-66.0) <0.0001 63.4(59.4-67.4) <0.0001 -0.4



Table 2: Prevalence of and Percent change in binge drinking** for Women in Georgia, U.S. by Sociodemographic characteristics, 2011 and 2016


Characteristic                 BRFSS Survey



              BRFSS Survey




% Change
  % (95% CLa) p-value % (95% CLa) p-value  
Total 11.1 (9.6-12.5) <0.0001 9.7(8.2-11.2) <0.0001 -12.6
18-24 22.8(15.6-30.1)   13.8(7.6-20.0)   -39.4
25-44 14.9(12.4-17.5)   13.4(10.4-16.4)   -10.0
45-64 7.4(6.0-8.7)   8.3(6.2-10.5)   12.1
65+ 1.1(0.6-1.6) <0.0001 2.7(1.6-3.9) <0.0001 145
Race /Ethnicity          
White/Non-Hispanic 12.2(10.4-14.0)   9.6(7.7-11.5)   -21.3
Black/Non-Hispanic 8.2(5.9-10.6)   9.8(6.8-12.8)   16.3
Hispanic 10.8(4.5-7.1)   9.4(4.0-14.9)   -12.9
Other 17.0(7.1-27.0) 0.0419 9.0(2.3-15.8) 0.9968 -47.0
No High School 9.5(5.3-13.8)   7.0(2.4-11.7)   -26.3
High School 10.2(7.5-13.0)   5.8(3.5-8.0)   -43.1
Attended College 10.6(8.1-13.2)   11.4(8.5-14.3)   7.5
College or technical school graduate 13.6(11.3-15.9) 0.1584 13.2(10.4-16.0) 0.0002 -2.94
<$15,000 9.3(5.4-13.3)   9.2(5.5-13.0)   -1.07
$15,000-$25,000 11.2(7.7-14.8)   13.8(10.5-17.1)   23.2
$25,000-$35,000 7.4(3.6-11.2)   9.2(5.5-13.0)   24.3
$35,000-$50,000 9.7(6.6-12.9)   17.3(12.9-21.7)   78.3
>=$50,000 13.2(11.0-15.5) 0.0773 17.0(14.7-19.3) 0.0003 28.7


a- CL means Confidence Limits

** Binge Drinking in women defined as women having 4+ drinks on one occasion


Table 3: Intensity of Binge Drinking Prevalence and Percent change by Age category for Women in Georgia, 2011

  Past 30 days, average # of drinks had on days you drank
Age categories 1 drink 2 drinks 3-4 drinks 5 drinks or more
  % (95% CLa) % (95% CLa) % (95% CLa) % (95% CLa)
18-24 40.1(27.7-52.6) 21.3(11.2-31.4) 20.1(10.7-29.6) 18.5(9.1-27.9)
25-44 45.8(41.1-50.4) 30.4(26.2-34.6) 16.6(12.8-20.4) 7.2(4.5-9.9)
45-64 54.6(50.8-58.4) 30.4(27.8-33.8) 11.1(8.4-13.7) 3.9(1.9-5.9)
65+ 70.2(64.7-75.6) 23.2(18.1-28.3) 4.6(2.2-7.0) 2.0(0.4-3.6)

p-value: <0.0001; a- CL means Confidence Limits





Table 4: Intensity of Binge Drinking Prevalence and Percent change by Age category for Women in Georgia, 2016

  Past 30 days, average # of drinks had on days you drank
Age categories 1 drink 2 drinks 3-4 drinks 5 drinks or more
  % (95% CLa) % (95% CLa) % (95% CLa) % (95% CLa)
18-24 42.7(28.9-56.5) 23.1(12.3-33.9) 23.7(11.8-15.6) 10.5(2.4-18.6)
25-44 47.7(41.1-54.2) 36.5(30.1-42.9) 12.4(8.2-16.7) 3.4(1.2-5.6)
45-64 49.9(44.1-55.6) 33.2(27.7-38.6) 11.1(7.5-14.7) 5.9(2.4-9.3)
65+ 71.8(65.7-77.8) 20.1(14.9-25.3) 6.4(3.3-9.6) 1.7(0.0-4.4)

p-value:0.0017; a- CL means Confidence Limits


Alcohol Prevention Strategies: Needed for Both men and Women



Excessive alcohol use is responsible for approximately 88,000 deaths in the united states each year and $249 billion in economic costs in 2010. Excessive alcohol use includes

  • Heavy drinking (defined as consuming 8 or more alcoholic beverages per week for women or 15 or more alcoholic beverages per week for men)
  • Binge drinking (defined as consuming 4 or more alcoholic beverages per week for women or 5 or more drinks per occasion for men)
  • Any drinking by pregnant women or those younger than age 21.

The strategies listed below can help communities create social and physical environment that discourage excessive consumption thereby, reducing alcohol-related fatalities, costs and other harms. (


Some of the recommendations are-

  • Regulations of alcohol outlet density– alcohol outlet density refers to the number and concentration of alcohol retailers (such as bars, restaurants, liquor stores) in an area. Reducing the alcohol outlet density is one of the strategies to reduce alcohol sales and consumption by people.
  • Increasing alcohol taxes – alcohol excise taxes may include wholesale, excise, or sales taxes, all of which affect the price of alcohol. Taxes can be levied at the federal, state, or local level on beer, wine or distilled spirits. (
  • Dram shop liability – Dram shop liability, also known as commercial host liability, refers to laws that hold alcohol retail establishments liable for injuries or harms caused by illegal service to intoxicated or underage customers.
  • Maintaining limits on days of sale – states or communities may limit the days that alcohol can legally be sold or served.
  • Maintaining limits on hours of sale – states or communities may limit the hours that alcohol can legally be sold.
  • Electronic screening and brief intervention (e-SBI) – e-SBI uses electronic devices (e.g., computers, telephones, or mobile devices) to facilitate delivery of key elements of traditional screening and brief interventions. At a minimum, e-SBI involves screening individuals for excessive drinking, and delivering a brief intervention, which provides personalized feedback about the risks and consequences of excessive drinking. (
  • Enhanced enforcement of laws prohibiting sales to minors – Enhanced enforcement programs initiate or increase compliance checks at alcohol retailers (such as bars, restaurants, and liquor stores) for laws prohibiting the sale of alcohol to minors
  • Screening and brief intervention for excessive drinking in clinical settings – Screening and behavioral counseling interventions to reduce alcohol misuse by adults, including pregnant women, in primary care settings can identify people whose levels or patterns of alcohol consumption do not meet the criteria for alcohol dependence, but place them at increased risk of alcohol-related harms.11
  • Additional alcohol policies – other policy areas such as laws and regulations related to the minimum legal drinking age and sales to underage youth, privatization or monopolization of alcohol control systems, monitoring of alcohol outlet densities. Restriction in these areas make alcohol less available. (


According to me, the prevention strategies should not be different for men and women.

Also by the UK’s new alcohol guidelines advise that men and women shouldn’t drink more than 14 units of alcohol a week.

Earlier the British drinkers presented a higher threshold for men but now the alcohol guidelines are same for men and women. So, what was the evidence that the limits shouldn’t take gender into account. The different risk factors faced by men and women are apparent at higher levels of consumption-what we now call “drinking with increasing risk”.

That is, men who regularly drink more than three or four units a day and women who regularly drink more than this or three units a day. But at levels of consumption lower than this, these differences are not as clear cut. (

The new guidelines present the message that there is no “safe” level of alcohol consumption but stop short of recommending abstention as the best policy. In fact, the Sheffield data shows that for both men and women drinking up to seven units a week, spread across three or more days, actually has a protective effect on death from an alcohol-related health condition. For men the benefit is very small (a 0.1% improvement), compared with over 2% for women.
















Women and Drinking: The Memes & Some Solutions

The Memes related to women and drinking – are they tapping into the motivation to drink, the negative reinforcement?

Alcoholism, also called dependence on alcohol, is a chronic relapsing disorder that is progressive and has serious detrimental health outcomes. The development of alcoholism is characterized by frequent episodes of intoxication, preoccupation with alcohol, use of alcohol despite adverse consequences, compulsion to seek and consume alcohol and emergence of a negative emotional state in the absence of the drug.

Reinforcement is a process in which a response or behavior is strengthened based on previous experiences. In negative reinforcement, a response or behavior is strengthened by stopping, removing, or avoiding a negative outcome or aversive stimulus. Memes like “shout out to the liver for handling what the heart cannot” or “if you combine wine and dinner the new word is winner” and a text reading “according to chemistry, alcohol is a solution” are tapping into the motivation to drink. Although they are funny sometime, they are also insidious, since they get inside our head and make us want to drink. Experts says that such memes create a strong effect on the mind of an individual as they encourage excessive drinking and promote alcohol as a solution to problems and are portrayed as a way of ‘’escaping reality”. So, people keep drinking for longer periods of time. Researchers also suggest that such memes encourage unwise drinking and trivialize alcohol addiction.



But, there are some methods by which one can stay sober despite all the pervasive messages and drinking environments. The first is the Dory method in which you can remember the top ten ‘bad drinking memories’ where you place them in the back pocket and whip them out whenever you find yourself romanticizing alcohol. One study found that even if you don’t have a time for long work out sessions, just 10 minutes may reduce or eliminate a booze craving for alcohol drinking.


There is also motivational model of alcohol use which suggest that individual differences in sensitivity to the acute subjective effects of alcohol, which may serve as a mechanism underlying alcohol reinforcement and the motivation to consume more alcohol during a drinking episode. The results demonstrate that drinking motives are linked with individual differences in sensitivity to the effects of alcohol, which may serve as a mechanism underlying alcohol reinforcement and the motivation to consume more alcohol during a drinking episode.

Women’s bodies also react differently to the alcohol than men’s bodies. That means women face particular health risks from alcohol.According to one study problems with alcohol increased by nearly 50 percent. Among women, alcohol abuse and dependence increased by 83.7 percent. Among the poor it rose by 65.9 percent. because of the increased drinking among women the prevalence of fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) in the united states also raised. It was observed to be between 0.5 and 3.0 cases per 1000 by the institute of medicine in 1996 but more recent reports from specific U.S. sites report the prevalence of FAS to be 2 to 7 cases per 1,000 and the prevalence of Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) to be as high as 20 to 50 cases per 1,000.