26 January 2022 In Drinking Patterns

BACKGROUND: A range of societal changes have created positive and encouraging environments for women's alcohol use. Within this context, in Western countries there is evidence of rising rates of alcohol consumption and related harms among midlife and older women. It is timely and important to explore the role of alcohol in the lives of midlife women to better understand observed data trends and to develop cohort specific policy responses. Focussing on Western countries and those with similar mixed market systems for alcohol regulation, this review aimed to identify 1) how women at midlife make sense of and account for their consumption of alcohol; 2) factors that play a role; and 3) the trends in theoretical underpinnings of qualitative research that explores women's drinking at midlife.

METHODS: A meta-study approach was undertaken. The review process involved extracting and analysing the data findings of eligible research, as well as reviewing the contextual factors and theoretical framing that actively shape research and findings.

RESULTS: Social meanings of alcohol were interwoven with alcohol's psycho-active qualities to create strong localised embodied experiences of pleasure, sociability, and respite from complicated lives and stressful circumstances in midlife women. Drinking was shaped by multiple and diverse aspects of social identity, such as sexuality, family status, membership of social and cultural groups, and associated responsibilities, underpinned by the social and material realities of their lives, societal and policy discourses around drinking, and how they physically experienced alcohol in the short and longer term.

CONCLUSION: For harm reduction strategies to be successful, further research effort should be undertaken to understand alcohol's diverse meanings and functions in women's lives and the individual, material, and socio-cultural factors that feed into these understandings. As well as broad policies that reduce overall consumption and "de-normalise" drinking in society, policy-makers could usefully work with cohorts of women to develop interventions that address the functional role of alcohol in their lives, as well as policies that address permissive regulatory environments and the overall social and economic position of women.

26 May 2021 In Drinking Patterns
Objectives: Alcohol consumption and harms among older people are increasing. We examined different demographic characteristics and drinking patterns among an older population. Methods: Secondary analyses of nationally representative Australian data; subjects aged 50+ years (N = 10,856). Two-step cluster analysis was performed to identify demographic groups and alcohol consumption behaviours. Results: Three groups were identified: Group 1 (older, unmarried, and lived alone): >65 years, moderate drinkers, poorest health, psychological distress, social disadvantage, smokers, illicit drug users, and more frequent previous alcohol treatment. Group 3 (older married): >65 years, good health, low psychological distress, less likely to drink at risky levels, and one in five drank daily. Group 2 (younger married): 50-64 years, mostly employed, highest proportion of risky drinkers and of 5+ standard drinks per session, and liberal drinking attitudes with most concern from others about their drinking. Discussion: These demographic typologies can inform targeted prevention efforts for an estimated 1.3 million adults older than 50 years drinking at risky levels.

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