A DANGEROUS PLEASURE by Geraldine Youcha


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Alcohol's damaging effects are usually no respecter of sex,"" yet women have usually been excluded from serious studies of alcoholism. But women--and women in increasing numbers--do experience the same ill effects from excessive use and a few more peculiar to their sex. Not only are women more stigmatized for the habit (""drunk as a lord"" vs. drunk as a lady) but there may be some correlation--as yet ""preliminary and sketchy""--between hormonal cycles and susceptibility: the menstrual cycle seems to affect the way a woman reacts to alcohol. There is evidence that women generally can tolerate less alcohol than men, even when weight differences are adjusted, and a slim possibility that estrogen may act as a protection against drunkenness. Free-lance writer Youcha considers not just the larger alcoholic pattern (memory loss, sexual dysfunction, family disruption, low self-esteem) but also the specifically female ones: the physical aspects (female alcoholics have a significantly higher incidence of ob-gyn disorders) and the socio-cultural ones (the high percentage of drinkers who abuse their children). She also takes note of ""hidden"" drinkers (housewives whose families cover up), indicates how difficult doing alcoholism research is (more than 80 percent of female heavy drinkers are also heavy smokers), and mentions related issues: the fetal-alcohol syndrome, ethnic differences, (which are declining), the rise in child alcoholism. Agencies scattered across the country continue to investigate women's alcoholism and work to give it the ""serious problem"" recognition it warrants--as will this book, which develops a case from relatively little conclusive evidence.

Pub Date: Sept. 11th, 1978
Publisher: Hawthorn