The feminization of alcohol use disorder and policy implications for women: “Sweet, pretty and pink”
The feminization of alcohol use disorder (AUD) puts forward unique circumstances under which women’s lived-experience with problem drinking unfolds. Seeing that alcohol use disorder is rising globally, in many instances female drinkers are responsible for this growth, this paper aims to give insight into an in-depth narrative account of the gender scripts which governed the drinking behaviour of 10 women. Due to gender biases and fixed gender roles within their lived-environment, this paper aims to answer the research questions: “how does South African society view women who drink” and “how do women in Cape Town drink differently to men”? This project used a qualitative research framework within a human scientific paradigm. Data was analyzed utilizing discourse analysis. Coherent with the feminist social constructionist approach, results indicate that women’s problem drinking is mostly secretive because of society’s harsh rebuke with regards to the feminization of alcohol use disorder, which embodies a significant barrier to women seeking treatment. A review of current alcohol policies within the Western Cape local government is presented to provide information on policy implications for women in South Africa. This paper recommends that further qualitative enquiry should explore women’s drinking and how society depicts women who drink heavily. This paper strongly recommends that the National Department of Health and Social Development team up with the National Department of Women in order to create public mental health campaigns that caution against subliminal advertisement of women’s drinking; alerting against the harmful effects of sweet, pretty and pink drinks.
Keywords: Gender, Feminist, Alcohol Use Disorder, Alcohol Policy, Addiction, South Africa