It’s now crystal clear that women are catching up to men when it comes to drinking.
This has become increasingly apparent in academic studies and at bottle shop checkouts.
The Newcastle Herald put an important spotlight on the issue on Monday, reporting that the rate of hazardous drinking among females aged 30 to 50 was climbing. University of Newcastle clinical psychologist Sally Hunt attributed the rise to stress.
“My hypothesis is that, for that group, alcohol use is really around stress relief, letting off some steam to cope with the many roles most women carry,” Dr Hunt said.
It remains the case that a lot more men than women drink at levels that pose a long-term risk to health.
Importantly, the rise in women using alcohol to cope with stress appears to coincide with the increase in women in the workforce. Nowadays, it’s almost a necessity for both adults in a marriage or partnership to be employed, given the cost of living and the nature of consumerism.
With this way of life, comes increased levels of stress and illness on a physical and mental level. The tendency for people to turn to alcohol, other drugs and/or food to cope with these things is one of society’s biggest challenges.
What can be done to improve the situation? Education is crucial. Healthy stress management tools should be taught at an early age.
Affordable health care is also important. The easy option should be seeing a doctor or medical practitioner, not dropping into the bottle shop on the way home from work every night.
Governments have an important role in setting policies that ensure people are treated as humans, not numbers.
Workplace culture is clearly a factor in the stress that people suffer. It’s not uncommon for people to be working longer hours these days, which can greatly affect wellbeing and family life.
Employees, then, must take some responsibility and do what they can to ensure workplace demands and practices are not unreasonable. This makes sense because a stressed-out worker is unlikely to be a productive worker in the long-term.
The health of employees should be as important as profit, if not more important. The smart and successful companies and corporations of the present and future will be the ones who give employee health the importance that it warrants.
It should also be said that personal responsibility is a part of this story. As the saying goes, “you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink”.
The World Health Organisation has labelled stress “the health epidemic of the 21st century”. It’s a global problem that is worsening. As such, the countries that do everything they can to get on top of this problem are the ones more likely to sustain a good standard of living for their people.