Amber Ribbon?

Yesterday I wrote about one little moment in my history with domestic violence.  I was taken aback by a couple of comments.  People who grew up in the shadow of alcoholism and violence.  It leaves a mark.  We survive, we thrive, but it leaves a mark.

I thought about the fact that we are about to embark on the month of pink.  Please don’t misunderstand and think I don’t care about breast cancer.  I do.  I have had friends affected and it is tragic.

However, if you look at the statistics, you will find that approximately 40,000 women in the US are expected to die each year from breast cancer.  The rate has dropped in the last ten years.  Among cancers, breast cancer kills less women than lung cancer.

Heart disease causes approximately 420,000 deaths of women in the US per year.

These facts were easily found by google search.

When I tried to find the mortality rates for alcoholism, I found nothing.  I found one “fact” repeated over and over.  “female alcoholics have death rates 50 to 100% higher than those of male alcoholics.”  That is one of the more meaningless statements I have ever read.  But I do get the idea – women die more frequently from alcohol related illnesses than men.  But we don’t seem to have any data on either.  One study cited a stat that was startling – as many elderly women present to ERs in the US with alcohol related problems as cardiovascular disease.

Not to mention that women who drink alcoholically run the risk of having children with fetal alcohol syndrome.  They run the risk of having violent relationships that cause untold damage for children who witness them.  They kill themselves and others on highways.  They commit suicide.  They commit homicide.

All the studies reference the health benefits of a miniscule quantity of alcohol for a “normal drinker.”  Do you know that the definition cited for heavy drinking among women is “more than one drink a day or eight drinks a week?”  Who drinks like that?  Why would you bother?

Do any studies of diabetes say that one teaspoon of sugar helps the medicine go down?  I think not!

I guess it wouldn’t feel as good to wear an amber ribbon for alcoholism.  It doesn’t sound as tough to have a “war on booze.”  We still wink and giggle at drunks.  It’s cute.  We are surrounded by advertisements – beautiful women drinking – never drunken slobbering fools.  Men sliding into homeplate, and then enjoying an ice cold beer.  Never a fat old man in a recliner about to pass out, with the remote falling out of his hand.

I wonder if we could make progress if we marketed alcoholism as aggressively as breast cancer.

Now I shall get to work.  I seem to have an excess of energy this morning.  Might as well put it to good use!

Noah was the first tiller of the soil.  He planted a vineyard; and he drank of the wine and became drunk, and lay uncovered in his tent.  — Genesis 9:20-21


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13 Responses to Amber Ribbon?

  1. Some good points here. Women’s health, except for breast cancer, is largely ignored. It is often the male alcoholics (or heart patients or whatever) that often receive the most attention.Though, I think a “war on booze” would make people rant about Prohibition and their rights. I look back at figures like Carrie Nation and think the whole country should have gone to Al-Anon.

  2. Dave U says:

    Go forth young woman.

  3. luluberoo says:

    Addiction/alcoholism are looked upon as moral failings. Cancer is not, even if one’s lifestyle contributed to it. I don’t think that view will change anytime soon, despite all the FB groups to erase the stigma.

    • I don’t see how a FB group could accomplish anything like getting rid of the stigma. I guess it is much like suicide which is also a major major cause of death, but no one ever talks about it.

  4. sydlaughs says:

    And drinking in advertisements seems to be more and more prevalent. Prohibition didn’t stop anything. And it still won’t. Perhaps we are simply destined to be a nation of drunks and addicts who want to escape reality. I simply don’t know.

  5. I’m with Syd, I simply don’t know. Addiction boggles my mind. However, I do know that the earlier one begins drinking, the higher the chances of becoming alcoholic. And yet there are still people who think that as long as their teens drink at home “under their supervision” then they should be ok. I have actually heard people say that. “We don’t want junior out drinking and driving but he can drink at home where we will supervise him.” What the hell? Yes, let’s give our kids the message that alcohol (poison) is an acceptable social lubricant as long as mom and dad are watching. As if that will make it any less toxic.

    • Oh, it’s thorny all right. I have neighbors like that – who have let their kids do all manner of crazy shit right at home. Remember the good old days when you had to leave your house to get drunk and have indiscriminate sex?

  6. Jessie says:

    I have thought of this as well, especially here in the shadow of a very large teaching/research hospital where they are constantly putting out ads for people who are “heavy drinkers, alcoholics, drug users’ to continue to research and test medications. :oP I think… what happens to those who try that stuff isn’t it weird that people who make it into the rooms don’t talk about being part of research programs, why? Why do you never hear about those? I have a feeling it’s not a good turn out, but …just don’t know.

  7. Mary LA says:

    So much misunderstanding and ignorance about alcoholism and recovery.

    Out here our breast cancer stats are much higher than other kinds of cancer and research right across the spectrum of cancers is underfunded.

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