A recent report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has found that alcohol-related deaths increased by 43% between 2006 and 2018. According to the report the impact was greater among women. The rate of death was higher for men than women but the rate of increase was higher for women.
People in rural areas were also more impacted by alcohol harm. Even in these areas women suffered a higher rate of alcohol death. By 2018, rates were 18% higher for males and 23% higher for females.
This is not a new problem. Movendi International has been following how alcohol harm has been unequally affecting women more than men in USA.
Minorities disproportionately burdened
Minorities are another group in society disproportionately affected by alcohol harm. According to Martine Hackett, an associate professor at Hofstra University, when it comes to recovery, racial disparities makes it harder for minorities to access the help they need.
Due to cultural reasons, trauma and racial mistrust sometimes minorities would not want to access the available help. They may be more comfortable to get help through the family or community. Trauma and racism can also increase susceptibility to addiction.
Minorities have lower accessibility for addiction and recovery services as well. One example is Native Americans who have a higher rate of addiction, but have a lower rate of recovery and being able to seek recovery.
COVID-19 fuels alcohol harm inequality
The ongoing pandemic is making matters worse. A recent study published in the JAMA Network found that overall alcohol use has increased by 14% in the U.S. in 2020 comparative to 2019. The case is worse for women. There was a 41% increase in women’s heavy alcohol use – defined as four units of alcohol or more within a couple of hours.
Another study, published in Addictive Behaviors, found that pandemic stress was related to an increase in alcohol use. While for men the stress related alcohol use remained stable, for women it increased significantly. Having children at home was related to further increase in alcohol use.
One of the reasons for the increased alcohol use among women during the pandemic is that women often bear a bigger childcare and household burden. Big Alcohol exploits this reality as a strategy to push alcohol on women as a “coping mechanism” or as a “gender equalizer”. The “mommy juice” trend is an example for this harmful strategy promoted by the alcohol industry. Women have long been the target of the alcohol industry and even during COVID-19 the industry has specifically targeted women.
Previously, Movendi International reported how the COVID-19 pandemic was affecting different communities differently in terms of alcohol harm.
Rising alcohol harm among the wealthy
The wealthier population such as business leaders and celebrities in the United States is also suffering from a higher alcohol burden due to the coronavirus. Some people of this socio-economic groups experience difficulties with self-worth and relationship issues at home because their routines have changed from an extremely busy work life managing many people to a work from home situation, with more free time and more household chores and childcare responsibilities.
Experts working as coaches with business executives, celebrities, and other wealthy people report recent findings that show that their clients’ stress levels which used to reduce upon returning home are now remaining at a high throughout the day.
All these factors are contributing to an unhealthy coping mechanism through alcohol use which can quickly turn into disorder and addiction. The alcohol industry is fomenting these problems by aggressively promoting alcohol as a coping mechanism for COVID-19 stressors and pushing online sale and on-demand delivery of alcohol.