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Thursday, 2 November, 2000, 11:16 GMT
Women 'getting dangerously drunk'
Female drinker
Too much alcohol can put many women in danger
Almost half of young women get so drunk at least once a week that they put themselves potentially in danger, according to a survey.

They become so inebriated that they are unable to make responsible decisions about matters such as sex or ensuring they not vulnerable to attack.

The research by Company magazine's found that 50% of women have walked home alone when drunk.

One-third of women admitted to having unprotected sex after having too much to drink.

The survey, carried out in September among 1,000 18 to 30-year-olds, also revealed that:

  • 41% confessed to a one-night stand which they would never have dreamt of doing had they been sober
  • one in three women have had to ask their GP for the morning-after pill after drunken sex
  • 10% have sought treatment for a suspected sexually-transmitted disease
Some 19% of young women confessed to driving over the limit.

And nearly one in five (19%) admitted getting into dodgy cars to get home because they were drunk.

The survey found that 41% of women admitted to binge drinking - not drinking much during the week, but over-indulging at weekends.

More than eight out ten (84%) said they started drinking before the age of 16 and 25% drank twice as much when on holiday.

Company editor Sam Baker said: "We've all been there, drunk far too much and done something that, in the cold light of day, made us cringe.

"It's fine to drink what you want, where you want, with who you want, but don't put yourself in danger."

Medical damage

Andrew McNeill, co-director of the Institute of Alcohol Studies, told BBC News Online that alcohol consumption was rising among young women - particularly those in the professional classes.

Women cannot drink like men, that is not sexual bigotry, it is medical reality

Andrew McNeill, Institute of Alcohol Studies
He said: "The girls behaving badly pattern seems to have become well established - a night out with the lads seems to have crossed the gender barrier."

Mr McNeill said that women were more vulnerable to the effects of alcohol than men.

A woman who drinks the same amount as a man will end up with a higher level of alcohol in her blood stream.

Also, it has been shown that alcohol is more likely to cause brain damage and liver disease in women, partly because they cannot metabolise it as quickly as men. They are also more likely to become dependent.

Mr McNeill said: "Women cannot drink like men, that is not sexual bigotry, it is medical reality, and those that try to are putting themselves at risk."

He also warned that the long-tem impact of heavy drinking among women was not fully understood, as this was the first generation to hit the bottle in such a way.

The results of the survey "Drink, sex, drugs & you" will appear in the December issue of the women's magazine.

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See also:

14 Aug 00 | Health
Binge drinking 'can damage brain'
25 Jun 99 | Health
Alcohol benefits debunked
27 Apr 00 | Health
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