Young women binge drinking
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.