Why Do Middle-Age Women Drink More than Younger Ones?
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Why Do Middle-Age Women Drink More than Younger Ones?

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This post was originally published on June 18, 2014.

According to a new study out of Australia, middle-aged women there drink more alcohol than any other age group.

Ladies Night, Indeed

According to Queensland researcher Hanna Watling, about 13 percent of Australian women in the 45-to-59 age range average more than two drinks a day—more than the younger women polled—and it can increase their chances of dying from an alcohol-related illness.

Though the study notes that said older women have, fortunately, given up binge drinking (hopefully at least, some of us successfully left that shit back in our college days), the researchers do plan to explore their findings even further to try to determine exactly why alcohol is becoming a bigger part of their day-to-day lives.

The More Often, The More Dangerous

“What we are concerned about is that those women, who drink moderately but often may end up consuming a larger volume of alcohol than those who drink heavily but less frequently,” Watling said.

Their thing for wine-over-brunch or what-have-you does, Watling reported, raise their risk of forming “long-term problems such as liver and heart diseases, high blood pressure and increased risk of cancer.” She also noted that “My preliminary study suggests that for women in their 40s and 50s, drinking is not about getting drunk. Instead it’s more that alcohol becomes a greater part of everyday life as you age, for example having a wine with dinner or in front of the TV.”

The Underlying Cause

The key piece of missing information here, of course, is why middle-age women are drinking more, and whether their new habits make them more inclined to become alcoholics at some point. Do they do it out of boredom? Loneliness? Fear? Or just the good old-fashioned need for a quick escape from the everyday minutia via the welcoming, warm buzz of a tumbler of red wine?

I’m 37 and haven’t had a drink in a few years. But the last time I did drink, in my earlier 30s, it did feel different than the imbibing I’d done when I was younger. As a 30-something, my drinking felt more isolate-y, less about being social and more about relaxation, anxiety relief and escape. I didn’t drink to have fun, I drank to help me cope with my crazy emotions (my dad was dying of cancer at the time, so believe me, there were many feelings going around).

I can’t lie—I still think about drinking sometimes. Not all the time, but here and there. I hope I can manage to stay on my toes and keep avoiding wine-o’-clock, though, because honestly? I have no interest in becoming one of those middle-age statistics.

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About Author

Laura Barcella is a documentary researcher, author, freelance writer and ghostwriter from Washington, DC. Her writing has also appeared in TIME, Marie Claire, Salon, Esquire, Elle, Refinery29, AlterNet, The Village Voice, Cosmopolitan, The Chicago Sun-Times, Time Out New York, BUST, ELLE Girl, NYLON and CNN.com. Her book credits include Know Your Rights: A Modern Kid's Guide to the American Constitution, Fight Like a Girl: 50 Feminists Who Changed the World, Popular: The Ups and Downs of Online Dating from the Most Popular Girl in New York City, Madonna & Me: Women Writers on the Queen of Pop and The End: 50 Apocalyptic Visions From Pop Culture That You Should Know About…Before It’s Too Late.