High-risk drinking among women has increased significantly over the past decade, and the coronavirus pandemic seems to have made the problem worse. A recent study in JAMA Network Open compared drinking patterns before and after the pandemic. The results? Women increased how often they drink more than men did, and also reported major increases in binge drinking and problems related to drinking.

These trends have serious health consequences. Because of sex differences such as lower average body weights compared to men, women suffer from more severe alcohol-related problems, including liver damage and heart disease, at lower levels of drinking. What’s more, women of reproductive age who drink also risk prenatal alcohol exposure, the most common preventable cause of intellectual and developmental issues in the United States.

As one of the largest groups of behavioral health providers, social workers are essential to addressing this growing public health challenge. From hospitals and mental health centers, to schools and private practices, social workers can make a difference by integrating alcohol screening and brief intervention (SBI) into routine care.

Continue reading in NASW’s Social Work Blog.