Young women binge drink­ing

Central Leader - - SITUATIONS VACANT - SI­MON MAUDE

Alco-pop guz­zling young women are the new face of New Zealand’s drink­ing prob­lem, a first-of-its-kind study shows.

Massey Univer­sity re­searchers Martin Wall and Sally Cress­well in­ter­viewed 2000 people for their study, which iden­ti­fied dis­tinct be­haviour ‘‘clus­ters’’ that drinkers fell into.

Women un­der 24 who pur­chased RTDs from off-li­cences were found to drink, on av­er­age, nearly 24 litres per year.

That was more than twice the amount con­sumed by the next clus­ter of fe­male prob­lem drinkers, and more than the heav­i­est male drinker clus­ter too.

Wall and Cress­well’s study also found that prob­lem drink­ing amongst younger woman wasn’t a prob­lem a gen­er­a­tion ago when they checked ear­lier re­search stud­ies go­ing back to the mid-eight­ies.

Al­co­hol Health­watch ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Dr Nicki Jack­son said the re­search ‘‘re­in­forces the role of off-li­cences in al­co­hol­re­lated harm’’ in New Zealand.

‘‘Drinkers are in­creas­ingly choos­ing to pur­chase their al­co­hol from these out­lets, re­sult­ing in them now sell­ing around 75 per cent of all al­co­hol in New Zealand.’’

Young women were con­sum­ing in ex­cess of four times the amounts rec­om­mended in New Zealand’s low-risk drink­ing guide­lines, Jack­son said.

That placed them and oth­ers at ‘‘ex­treme risk of al­co­hol-re­lated harm’’.

Auck­land ad­dic­tion treat­ment clin­i­cian and re­cov­er­ing al­co­holic Si­mone Bar­clay said the rise in fe­male prob­lem drink­ing was partly a sign of a chang­ing so­ci­ety.

‘‘Our so­ci­ety has got a very high tol­er­ance for drunken ‘high jinks’. We need to lower that thresh­old.’’

Wall said law changes which al­lowed su­per­mar­kets to sell al­co­hol could have been partly to blame for the in­crease in prob­lem drink­ing among women.

In 1990 New Zealand su­per­mar­kets were al­lowed to sell wine, then in 1999, beer.

Be­fore­hand, when people vis­ited of­fli­cences, ‘‘every­body [knew] the only rea­son you’re go­ing in there is to buy al­co­hol’’, Wall said.

‘‘With su­per­mar­kets, it’s just part of the weekly shop.’’

The re­search showed mas­sive in­creases in haz­ardous drink­ing among mid­dle-aged men and women.

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