Thinking about Girls, Young Women and Alcohol

Considering the title of this blog refers to both girls and women, I haven’t said much about girls and alcohol use as yet. Here’s some statistics.

According to the 2004 Canadian Addiction Survey:

  • 15% of women ages 18-19 and 11% of women ages 20-24 report heavy, frequent drinking (heavy drinking is defined as four or more drinks at
  • a sitting)
  • Heavy drinking and drinking in excess of the low-risk drinking guidelines is more common among Canadians 18 to 24 years of age than among older persons.
  • Over 85% of the alcohol consumption reported by females ages 15-24 is consumed in excess of Canadian guidelines

It’s important to consider girls and young women as a separate group when thinking about alcohol use. Girls and young women have different patterns of alcohol use, can experience the consequences of alcohol misuse differently than older women, and require different treatment and programming approaches. For example:

  • Alcohol misuse in girls can negatively impact puberty and disrupt normal sexual reproductive functioning
  • Intoxication can result in girls being more vulnerable to date rape, sexual assault, and unprotected sex
  • Alcohol advertisers target girls and young women through concerns about appearance and a desire to connect with others

Learn more:

Chung, P.J., Garfield, C.F., Elliott, M.N., Ostroff, J. Ross, C., Jernigan, D.H., Vestal, K.D., Schuster, M.A. (2010). Association between adolescent viewership and alcohol advertising on cable television. American Journal of Public Health, 100(3):555-62. Epub 2009 Aug 20. PMID: 19696391

National Centre on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University. (2003). The Formative Years: Pathways to Substance Abuse Among Girls and Young Women Ages 8-22. CASA: New York, NY.

Poole, N., Urquhart, C., and Gonneau, G. (2010). Girl-Centred Approaches to Prevention, Harm Reduction and Treatment, Gendering the National Framework Series (Vol. 2). Vancouver, BC: British Columbia Centre of Excellence for Women’s Health.