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Health Check '22: Alcohol consumption causes risks for women's health

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Posted at 2:47 PM, Mar 21, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-21 22:31:50-04

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — 13 Action News anchor Tricia Kean starts the Health Check '22 series by looking at some of this year's biggest impacts on health. She digs into how women are choosing to cope with the stress in their lives.

Life changed for many during the pandemic. Some lost a job, some worked from home, and many felt their stress levels spike.

"You have a glass of wine in the afternoon and then carried into the evening with friends," says Joy Hoover, a Las Vegas resident. "It just became more accessible, easier and something to do at times."

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Alcohol consumption up among U.S. women

Stress reliever

Hoover found alcohol to be an easy stress reliever as she is raising two small children and suddenly had to work from home. She admits it was easy to have a drink or two during the pandemic, but it was not healthy.

"Alcohol just started affecting my anxiety a lot and it started affecting my body and my mental health," Hoover said.

Hoover is not an alcoholic, but she knew she needed to make a change, and she is not the only one.

In a report released just six months into the pandemic, the Journal of the American Medical Association found alcohol consumption jumped 17 percent among U.S. women.

"We've seen a trend in the lives of women who are dealing with a lot of stress," said Michelle Dubey, chief clinical officer at Landmark Recovery, providing substance abuse treatment for Las Vegas. "Alcohol use is a very easy and accessible way for us to kind of cope, and it's socially condoned."

She points out the valley is not necessarily experiencing a spike in alcoholism, but even the smallest increase can have significant repercussions.

Liver disease

According to Dubey, alcohol can begin to impact someone's ability to complete responsibilities such as getting the kids to school, or practicing self-care.

The Mayo Clinic reports that women are increasingly affected by alcohol-associated liver disease and it can develop more severely with lower levels of alcohol than men. This becomes a major concern as women are also less likely to seek treatment for alcohol-associated liver disease.

"It's extremely important to always evaluate any behavior that we're having," Dubey said. "Is this healthy?"

However, there is good news. Help is available for anyone with questions.

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Alcohol consumption up among U.S. women

"There's a ton of professional help out there to help, and there's so many different levels of it," Dubey said. "I think people think, I'm using alcohol so I'm going to go into rehab. That's not all treatment. We have a wide continuum of care services."

Landmark Recovery offers a helpline where recovery specialists are standing by 24/7.

"If there's affordability issue, there's options for that as well. We can help raise awareness about what options are available; it's a no judgment zone," Dubey said. "That's what we do. We're just happy that you called and are making that step."

Social pressure

The first step is key, and sometimes it is the hardest part. The social pressure to hang out and have a drink happens to anyone.

"If it doesn't make you feel good, if you are curious about what it feels like without alcohol, I would challenge you to try it," Hoover said. "See how your body feels without it."

Hoover stopped drinking in January 2021 and said for now, it's what works best for her.

"I realize it's OK. If alcohol does not work for my body, I can still be exactly who I am," Hoover said. "Have fun with my friends, hang out with my mom's friends, go on dates with my husband. Now, we just order off the mocktail menu."

Landmark Recovery has specialists standing by for anyone dealing with substance abuse or anyone with questions. Call 725-217-9910 for more information.

This story is part of our 13 Connects initiative, sponsored by Subaru of Las Vegas, America First Credit Union and Landmark Recovery.