Here's a list of selected resources that I've used in learning about the issues behind Tell Better Stories. It's not a comprehensive list, but rather a list of reference materials from which I draw that that are helpful for people who want to learn more about issues around alcohol and women, with an emphasis on the impact of advertising, marketing, media, and pop culture.
It's important to me to draw from materials that are fact-based. I am a journalist by training and cite materials that have been well researched. Knowledge is power.
To begin with, I recommend reading Ann Dowsett Johnston's book "Drink: The Intimate Relationship Between Women and Alcohol." Published in 2013, it is a pioneering work, and fundamental in understanding women's relationship with alcohol, as well as the uptick in alcohol-related advertising and cultural narratives. Here's my Q&A with Ann (May 2018.) Here is an excerpt of the book.
NO LEVEL ALCOHOL CONSUMPTION IS SAFE, SAYS MAJOR STUDY: (THE GUARDIAN, AUGUST 23, 2018):
"Even the occasional drink is harmful to health, according to the largest and most detailed research carried out on the effects of alcohol, which suggests governments should think of advising people to abstain completely.
The uncompromising message comes from the authors of the Global Burden of Diseases study, a rolling project based at the University of Washington, in Seattle, which produces the most comprehensive data on the causes of illness and death in the world.
Alcohol, says their report published in the Lancet medical journal, led to 2.8 million deaths in 2016. It was the leading risk factor for premature mortality and disability in the 15 to 49 age group, accounting for 20% of deaths.
Current alcohol drinking habits pose “dire ramifications for future population health in the absence of policy action today”, says the paper. “Alcohol use contributes to health loss from many causes and exacts its toll across the lifespan, particularly among men.”
Most national guidelines suggest there are health benefits to one or two glasses of wine or beer a day, they say. “Our results show that the safest level of drinking is none.”
IT'S TIME TO RETHINK HOW MUCH BOOZE MAY BE TOO MUCH: VOX, JULY 19, 2018
"The new research is a reminder of something we often forget: Alcohol’s health effects are real, and they are serious. Excessive drinking can, over time, increase the risk of everything from liver disease to high blood pressure, dependency issues, and memory and mental health problems. Alcohol-related deaths have been going up in America: between 1999 and 2016, cirrhosis deaths rose by 65 percent — and the largest increases in that period were driven by alcoholic cirrhosis among young people, aged 25 to 34 years. As Vox’s German Lopez has reported, this is an underappreciated fact that often gets lost in the coverage of opioids."
STUDY SHOWS BABY BOOMERS ARE DRINKING AT ALARMING RATES: CHICAGO TRIBUNE, APRIL 18, 2018
The good news: college-aged Americans are drinking less than 10 years ago. The bad news: Baby Boomers are drinking more. "Researchers see a steady rise in alcohol use and binge drinking - as well as what's known as Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD), an umbrella term for mild, moderate and severe abuse of alcohol - in the 65-plus demographic. Between 2005 and 2014, the percentage of older Americans who reported engaging in past-month binge drinking (defined as women consuming four or more drinks in about two hours, and men consuming five or more) increased from 12.5 percent to 14.9 percent, according to the NIAAA. The increase in drinking among older Americans is most pronounced among people with greater levels of education and income, and among women.
Drinking AMong Women
“It kind of crept up on me,” said Maynard, 63, whose novel about a single mother with a wine dependence, “Under the Influence,” came out in paperback in November. “The way I was drinking is the way a lot of women drink and don’t see it as any kind of problem. And for a lot of them, it may not be a problem. It wasn’t the quantity; it was the space wine occupied in my life. I could tell it was occupying an unhealthy one. I was using it increasingly as a comfort and a reliever of stress. I would say, ‘I’m not going to drink,’ and then I would.”
Maynard is part of an increasing cohort of women who have been drinking (or abusing) alcohol more than women did only a few decades ago, and in patterns increasingly similar to men’s. Health officials are watching the situation with concern, and some addiction specialists are making comparisons to other dependencies to which women may be more vulnerable, such as food addictions.
A good primer on the facts and the issues, including a look at a rise in alcohol use and health issues among women and how it's tied to advertising, media, and pop culture. Excerpt:
"The ads started popping up about a decade ago on social media. Instead of selling alcohol with sex and romance, these ads had an edgier theme: Harried mothers chugging wine to cope with everyday stress. Women embracing quart-sized bottles of whiskey, and bellying up to bars to knock back vodka shots with men.
In this new strain of advertising, women’s liberation equaled heavy drinking, and alcohol researchers say it both heralded and promoted a profound cultural shift: Women in America are drinking far more, and far more frequently, than their mothers or grandmothers did, and alcohol consumption is killing them in record numbers."
IT'S NOT JUST PAINKILLERS AND HEROIN: AMERICANS HAVE A GROWING ALCOHOL PROBLEM TOO: (VOX, DECEMBER9, 2016)
"America tends to take a very narrow view on drugs. Typically, Americans don’t even consider the two deadliest drugs — alcohol and tobacco — as drugs at all. Instead, “drugs” generally means illicit substances like heroin, cocaine, meth, and marijuana.
But alcohol and tobacco are big problems. Alcohol, as noted above, is linked to 88,000 deaths a year.