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September 19, 1986

Women and Alcohol: A Review

JAMA. 1986;256(11):1467-1470. doi:10.1001/jama.1986.03380110073029

SOCIETY'S strong disapproval of the woman who drinks alcohol is not of recent origin. In ancient Rome, the drinking of alcohol by women was strictly prohibited1 and punishable by death. Centuries later, Kant attributed the sobriety of women of his time to their special place in society and their adherence to a higher standard.2

Today's woman alcoholic is viewed as weak willed (as is her male counterpart), but, in addition, she is thought to be promiscuous and sexually aggressive, despite data that indicate quite the reverse. Recent studies indicate that women who are heavy or problem drinkers are more likely to be victims of the alcohol-related sexual aggression of others.3,4

Much of what we know about alcoholism is based on studies of male alcoholics, but in recent years a special focus on the woman alcoholic has emerged. Several conferences have been convened to review the ongoing research