Women's alcohol consumption: emerging patterns, problems and public health implications

Drug Alcohol Rev. 2002 Jun;21(2):169-78. doi: 10.1080/09595230220139073.


There is growing awareness of changes in the levels and patterns of women's use of alcohol. Australian and international data suggest that patterns of consumption among younger women are beginning to echo that of their male counterparts. Similarly, alcohol consumption among older women is also increasing in some developed countries. This paper provides an overview of available data sources that address changing patterns of consumption among women in Australia, and explanatory models which may account for these changes are discussed. Particular attention is directed to drinking among younger women and indigenous women. External social factors are explored, including the erosion of traditional values associated with women's consumption of alcohol. Finally, the paper examines the evidence for a long speculated 'convergence' of female and male alcohol consumption and assesses the public health implications of the emerging patterns of alcohol consumption by women. The inconsistent findings regarding brief interventions when applied to women, compared to men, are also highlighted in terms of appropriate future public health strategies.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alcohol Drinking / epidemiology*
  • Alcohol Drinking / prevention & control
  • Alcohol Drinking / trends*
  • Australia / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Public Health / statistics & numerical data*
  • Public Health / trends*
  • Socioeconomic Factors