Why are More Women Drinking and Driving?

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Women drinking and driving is on the rise. A recent study by the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) has found a significant increase in DUIs among women drivers. This increase covers all ages of women, but especially women over 50 and under 30. And California is not alone. Other surveys have found similar results in Michigan, Missouri and New York.

These statistics are particularly disconcerting, especially considering that the rates of DUI arrests among men has been on the decline since 2007.

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIH), Research shows that women start to have alcohol-related problems at lower drinking levels than men do. One reason is that, on average, women weigh less than men. In addition, alcohol resides predominantly in body water, and pound for pound, women have less water in their bodies than men do. So after a man and woman of the same weight drink the same amount of alcohol, the woman’s blood alcohol concentration will tend to be higher, putting her at greater risk for harm. Other biological differences, including hormones, may contribute as well.

According to Gabrielle Glaser, author of Her Best-Kept Secret: Why Women Drink—and How They can Regain Control, “By every quantitative measure, women are drinking more. They’re being charged more often with drunk driving, they’re more frequently measured with high concentrations of alcohol in their bloodstreams at the scene of car accidents, and they’re more often treated in emergency rooms for being dangerously intoxicated.”

She continues, “A national analysis of hospitalizations for alcohol overdose found that the rate of young females age eighteen to twenty-four jumped 50 percent between 1999 and 2008. In the same period, the rate for young men rose only 8 percent.”

In 2010, Gallup pollsters reported that nearly two-thirds of all American women drank regularly, a higher percentage than any other time in twenty-five years.

Women are twice as likely to suffer from anxiety and depression as men, and are more likely to treat their symptoms with alcohol. Other risk factors include a history of sexual abuse and bulimia, both of which also affect more women than men.

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