“Why Are Women Drinking More?” is NOT the Correct Question


Ken Donaldson women montage

The front page of the Tampa Bay Times earlier this week had the headline “For women, heavy drinking has been normalized and that’s dangerous.” As odd as it may sound, I get a little excited when anything addiction related makes it on the front page of the paper.

What I find most interesting about this is that it’s made to sound like something new, shocking and surprising.

I got bad news for the news people: Addiction everywhere for everyone is, and has been, on the rise.

The reason this news may seem surprising is because we have come to deny the magnitude and commonality of addiction.

Consider the following:

  • The National Institutes of Health reported that 16.3 million adults ages 18 and older – 6.8 percent of the population – met the criteria for alcoholism in the U.S. in 2014. Furthermore, 24.7 percent of people ages 18 or older reported that they engaged in binge drinking in the past month; 6.7 percent reported that they engaged in heavy drinking in the past month.
  • According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, in 2013, an estimated 24.6 million Americans aged 12 and older – 9.4 percent of the population – had used an illicit drug (including misuse of prescription drugs) in the past month. This number is up significantly from 8.3 percent in 2002.

And these are only two areas of addiction. Addiction to sex, food, spending, the Internet and gambling seldom are addressed in the media unless it’s a politician, movie-star or athlete who “gets caught.”

But addiction isn’t really the problem; it’s only a symptom of the real problem.

So what is the real problem? Us. Yes, you, me and our entire culture.

People turn to any and all addictive behavior as an escape. This is an escape from stress, anxiety, depression and trauma, as well as from every day life.

Unfortunately, the proactive antidote for addiction isn’t in our mainstream (yet).

Imagine if we had as part of normal school curriculum, beginning in kindergarten and going all the way through college, classes on stress management, assertiveness, healthy relationships, the signs and symptoms of depression, anxiety and addiction.

Yes, imagine if the media focused more on the solutions and prevention of addiction, rather than the sensationalism of these “new” reports or the downfall of another superstar dying, overdosing or going to treatment because of their addictive behavior.

Addiction will continue to grow and destroy lives. We need to make it a priority to be proactive and teach people how to live happy and healthy lives. Scoring well on the FCAT, SAT, ACT or GMAT are of little consequence if the person becomes a victim of addiction.

And if you think someone who’s intelligent and well educated is immune to addiction, think again. Addiction does not discriminate because of race, religion, gender, education or intelligence.

We are ALL potential victims of addiction. And we are the entire antidote. Until we make the latter a priority, more and more men and women alike, will fall prey to addiction.


Marry YourSelf First!: the Anti-addiction equalizer.


About Ken Donaldson

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