Monday, January 2, 2017

White Women Are Drinking Themselves to Death

Here’s a question begging for an answer: why are so many white women drinking themselves to death? The Washington Post reports the facts and, perhaps sagely, does not attempt to offer a solution. By all appearances white women, especially rural white women and especially college educated white women do not have it so good.

Apparently, white women have suffered the most during the past eight years.

The Post asks the question:

Why, after 50 years of unabated progress in life expectancy for every conceivable group of Americans – men, women, young, old, rich, poor, high-school dropouts, college graduates, rural, urban, white, black, Hispanic or Asian — had one demographic group in the last decade experienced a significant increase in premature deaths? Why were so many white women reporting precipitous drops in health, mental health, comfort and mobility during their working-age prime? Why, over the last eight years alone, had more than 300,000 of those women essentially chosen to poison themselves?

The Post also notes:

White women between 25 and 55 have been dying at accelerating rates over the past decade, a spike in mortality not seen since the AIDS epidemic in the early 1980s. According to recent studies of death certificates, the trend is worse for women in the center of the United States, worse still in rural areas, and worst of all for those in the lower middle class. Drug and alcohol overdose rates for working-age white women have quadrupled. Suicides are up by as much as 50 percent.

But, the situation really goes back to around the turn of the millennium. While the death rates for other groups diminish, those of white women increase. In another story the Post offers the statistics:

Drinking is killing twice as many middle-aged white women as it did 18 years ago.

Generally, middle age (age 35 to 54)  is not the time to die in modern societies. It is past teenage dangers, before the serious perils of age, and improved medical care and public-health campaigns are keeping more people alive.

So why are middle-aged white women dying more often even while death rates for other groups continue to go down? What are white women doing that is so different?

Strangely, college educated white women drink more than do women with some college and even more than women who have had a high school education:

One interesting twist that we’ll come back to shortly is that women with at least a four-year college degree report drinking more often than women without college degrees. Thirty-one percent of the women with a college degree reported drinking multiple days a week, compared with 21 percent of women with some college and 14 percent of women with a high-school education or less.

Yet, high school educated women are more likely to binge drink:

Scientists say that heavy drinking — many drinks at a time — can be more dangerous than regular drinking. One-third of white women reported “binge” drinking — having at least four drinks in two hours.

While women with college degrees drink more frequently, women with only a high-school education are more likely to say they binge drink.

What does it all mean? No one seems to know. Surely, the media will line up the usual suspects: insufficient mental health treatment, social media, and Fox News. And yet, one suspects that the phenomenon signals a fraying social fabric, a loss of national pride, a confusion over social roles coupled with economic decline.

Psychiatrists will say—reasonably-- that these women are self-medicating. What is so seriously wrong with their lives or with the nation that they are drinking themselves to death?


Trigger Warning said...

"[T]he [Progressive] media will line up the usual suspects: insufficient mental health treatment, social media, and Fox News. And yet, one suspects that the phenomenon signals a fraying social fabric, a loss of national pride, a confusion over social roles coupled with economic decline."

It is a matter of dogma for Proglodytes to blame institutions. Doing otherwise would be heresy, punishable by excommunication from the funding altar.

You're on the right track, though. I visit the enclaves of the unemployed blue-collar American because I was born there, lived there for almost 30 years, and still have family there. Today, white single mothers, and often single grandmothers, are normative. When I was a child, such things were unheard of, scandalous.

And there are only so many Wal-Mart and Subway jobs to be had. The solace of liquor and drugs have been with us for thousands of years, and their effects are fully known to every child who kills themselves with them.

When I was a child, Mt Hope WV was a wealthy, thriving town, seemingly eponymously named. This is Mt Hope today...

Can you imagine looking out the window of a mobile home at that every day without a little help? Michelle Obama said "we are feeling what not having hope feels like". She was right, just few decades late on the timing.

Anonymous said...

Some random thoughts

Middle age women drink now because they started binge drinking in college twenty years ago -- you know, to prove that they weren't the repressed little woman who was under the patriarchy's thumb. They had to show the frat boys in college that they were equals in everything including drinking. Well, alchohol is addicting girls -- if you try to stay with the men like the movies say you can (and must) you just might get addicted.

Woman do men's jobs now with stresses that are un-natural for women. Got to do something to get yourself to sleep at night

Acting the way your sociology proffessor says you must; or being the primary breadwinner of the family tends to alienate that male who is supposed to be your life partner, who eventually finds it intolerable and leaves. This leaves you with nobody to love. Furthermore, once Dad leaves, the stresses of raising kids vastly increases.

Prior to the last 40 years or so, all cultures recognized a fundamental aspect of a girl's personality called the maidenhead, or the sexual honor or the 'ird (The middle East concept of it) This was a mystical thing so valuable that men would bargain away their freedom to attain it. Nowadays, it's given away by accident because you drank too much, or for nothing. Perhaps this leaves a deep scar on the psyche that is never discussed

Anonymous ex of a heavy drinker

Sam L. said...

Gee, I heard white MEN were doing that, and suiciding more

Ares Olympus said...

I appreciate the second article with actual data. It shows a linear increase from 1999 to 2015, although no data given before that.

It's surprising the rate is mainly going up for white women.

I imagine most people don't even think about deaths from alcohol, outside drunk driving dangers. You have to be a very serious long term drinker to kill your liver. I recall one friend's grandparents both live into their 90s while spending their retirement years with social drinking every day. I don't remember what their cause of death were, but mentally I'd say they where not all there in the end.

It's surprising that its higher for college-educated women, but alcohol is expensive. Are illegal drugs cheaper than alcohol?
NEDS doesn’t have education like the health survey, but it has income grouping by the patient’s Zip code. When dividing patients into income groups, we see women who live in poorer neighborhoods are more likely to show up at the emergency room for drug intoxication, but women from wealthier neighborhoods are much more likely to show up at the hospital for alcohol intoxication.

I've mainly heard recently about spikes in heroin related deaths, and like musician Prince, Fentanyl is very dangerous because you can die from very small quantities, so more accidental overdoses. Feds bust suspected South Florida fentanyl importer as deaths soar

Anyway, I suppose it makes sense higher educated women avoid illegal stuff, and don't think about the long term consequences of alcohol consumption. It seems fair to call it a long term life-time behavior that is now just catching up to us.

Ares Olympus said...

Here's a 2015 article suggesting its time we raise taxes on Alcohol again.
In 1951, the federal excise tax on a standard shot of 80-proof whiskey was about 90 cents in today's dollars. Today it stands at about 13 cents, a seven-fold decrease. The real federal beer tax has fallen about fivefold over the same period, with a more modest drop for wine.

Myself, I was always surprised that drugs and alcohol are the only products that can be highly taxes without popular rebellion, although if taxes get too high, black markets will expand to avoid the taxes.

We probably picked the wrong congress to support tax increases, until their replacement for ObamaCare recognizes healthcare cost increases due to alcohol and uses that data to support it. I have a hard time imagining any republican believing in scientific data these days, but some might still exist.

I wouldn't think higher taxes would reduce consumption by people in middle-age but perhaps it'll reduce the amount younger people drink and the number of men and women who give into this bad habit will be reduced. So this isn't a quick fix.

Olympus Ares said...

Ares, were you drunk when you wrote that mindless, pointless, stream-of-consciousness drivel?

Dennis said...

I would suggest that the 53% of white women who voted for Trump are NOT in this group of women who drink too much. The 53 % are those who are tired of the beta male and truly enjoy we alpha males