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Middle-aged white women face increasing danger from alcohol abuse
Posted in Coping, Substance Abuse, Trauma - 0 Comments

Recently, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported alcohol-related deaths among women in Nevada were increasing. According to data analyzed by the newspaper from the Division of Public and Behavioral Health of the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services, 42 women died of alcohol-related causes in 2015. That’s an increase from 29 in 2014.

What may be unexpected for many is the fact that these deaths are occurring in a cohort not usually associated with drug use: middle-aged white women. And according to The Washington Post, it’s a sad trend which seems to be increasing nationwide.

It’s not just a Nevada problem

Late last year, The Post analyzed data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and found that white women aged from 35 to 54 were dying far more frequently – and frequently, alcohol was to blame. Between 1999 and 2015, the death rate from alcohol for white women climbed 130 percent. The Post’s analysis also found that white women were:

  • More than 70 percent likely to describe themselves as drinkers.
  • More likely to drink several days a week.
  • More likely to binge drink. For women, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) defines binge drinking as four drinks in a two-hour period.

According to the NIAAA, women who drink face unique health risks from alcohol abuse, which include:

  • A greater chance of developing cirrhosis from excessive drinking
  • A greater vulnerability to brain damage brought on by alcohol
  • Increased susceptibility to drinking-related heart disease and breast cancer

Many factors contribute to excessive drinking. Calling it “a common theme in women’s lives,” the NIAAA reports stress is often a reason behind women drinking excessively. However, the NIAAA also says other factors, including family history, determine the degree to which stress-related drinking becomes a problem. Ethnicity also plays a role.

Childhood trauma is also a major cause of problem drinking. Data from the Research Society of Alcoholism found that trauma plays a particularly large role in alcohol use for white women.

Middle-aged whites face increasing health risks

Meanwhile, The Post’s analysis reflects the findings of a study, which appeared in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in 2015. The study found that middle-aged, white non-Hispanic Americans of both sexes were both getting sicker and dying in greater numbers.

Education seemed to be the best predictor of mortality. The death rate for college-educated whites fell slightly and only changed slightly for those who had some college. But for middle-aged whites who had a high school degree or less, their death rate increased by 134 deaths per 100,000.

“After 1998, other rich countries’ mortality rates continued to decline by 2 percent a year,” the authors wrote. “In contrast, U.S. white non-Hispanic mortality rose by half a percent a year. No other rich country saw a similar turnaround.”

Alcohol abuse is treatable

Alcohol is an addictive drug. Alcoholism is also treatable, even if it’s driven by stress and trauma. Sovereign Health’s Chandler, Arizona, treatment center doesn’t merely treat alcohol abuse – we specialize in treating women who have survived trauma and abuse.

Our facility offers a safe, welcoming environment where women dealing with substance use and mental disorders can receive effective, evidence-based treatment. We utilize both traditional and alternative therapies to heal our patients in both mind and body, ensuring the best chance at a complete recovery. For more information, please contact our 24/7 helpline.

About the author

Brian Moore is a staff writer and graphic designer for Sovereign Health. A 20-year veteran of the newspaper industry, he writes articles and creates graphics across Sovereign’s portfolio of marketing and content products. Brian enjoys music, bicycling and playing the tuba, which he’s done with varying degrees of success for over 25 years. For more information and other inquiries about this media, contact the author and designer at

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