Binge-drinking is dangerously common among American women. Could cannabis be the solution?

In a op-ed for The Guardian, journalist Jessica Valenti points out that women’s rates of binge-drinking rose 17.5 percent between 2005 and 2012. Meanwhile, men’s binge drinking rose at a more modest rate: “just” 4.9 percent.

Valenti was on assignment in Denver when she read about the study. And it’s there that it occurred to her, she writes, that even if ladies smoked weed with the frequency that they now drink alcohol, we’d probably all be a lot better off.

There are a few reasons why more and more women are becoming contenders in the deadly game of binge drinking. In the past, it’s been arguably more socially acceptable for men to drink large amounts, and only now are women catching up.

Furthermore, as Valenti points out, more women, on average, suffer from anxiety disorders and depression than do their XY counterparts. Since drinking doesn’t meet with the same social stigma as cannabis use, more people are likely to take part in the activity.

The problem is, drinking has some serious long-term effects — as well as a few short-term ones like drunk driving.  You may not realize it, but alcohol is actually classified as a carcinogen, harmful to humans and their in utero offspring.

Alcohol also affects women differently than men; research suggests that just one drink a day can raise the risk of breast cancer in women.

And the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism states that “…drinking over the long term is more likely to damage a woman’s health than a man’s, even if the woman has been drinking less alcohol or for a shorter length of time than the man.”

Let’s compound that with the consequences of alcohol use in both genders, like cirrhosis of the liver, heart disease, and even brain damage. Clearly, there’s a lot not to love about the booze.

This isn’t to say that drinking in moderation — to the tune of a beer once in a while — is that bad an idea. But Valenti definitely makes a good point in her article: cannabis, whether smoked, eaten, or swallowed in pills, could actually be a safer choice for women in particular.

[Photo: Flickr/jeffeaton]

Join the Conversation