The number of women presenting at emergency departments with alcohol-related injuries is increasing at an alarming rate, a new national study shows.
The number of women who arrived at hospital with these alcohol-related injuries increased by 44% for women compared to 30% for men, in the seven year period between 2005 and 2012. Alarmingly, the steepest rise in these presentations was in teenage girls between 15 to 19-years of age. Their emergency room visits due to alcohol-related injuries increased by more than 60%.
Research leader Tanya Chikritzhs said it was likely that several factors were driving this trend, but there seemed to be a shift in the alcohol culture among young women in Australia.
“Once upon a time it was frowned upon for young ladies to drink too much in public, now the girls do their best to keep up with the boys.”
Young women also have higher disposable incomes than in the past, as well as being aggressively targeted by the alcohol industry. This leads girls to take up alcohol use at an earlier age and causes them to consume alcohol at higher levels.
The National Alcohol Indicators Project is the first to analyse emergency department presentations rather than hospital admissions. Emergency department data tends to capture less serious but more frequent alcohol-related injuries, such as minor fractures from falls and assaults. The study examined emergency arrivals on Friday and Saturday between 10pm and 4am and Sunday nights. It included injuries from people who had hurt themselves or who were the victim of someone else who had been using alcohol.
A major issue in alcohol-related injuries is harm inflicted on others than the alcohol consumer him/ herself. Professor Chikritzhs said these trends would likely continue without concerted efforts for high-impact, evidence-based alcohol policy.