Women in Canada under the age of 25 are more likely to feel regretful or guilty after a night of drinking than men of the same age group, according to newly released data. The Global Drug Survey 2017, the largest survey of its kind in the world, found that about eight percent more young women in Canada reported "feeling regret or guilt" at least once a month in the last year after drinking than men. As well, more young women reported not being able to remember the night before at least monthly.
The Global Drug Survey (GDS) 2017, which surveyed 5,331 people in Canada about their drinking habits, also found that women in general are more likely to seek emergency medical treatment due to drinking alcohol than men are. (It's worth noting that women weigh less on average than men, affecting how their bodies react to alcohol.)
However, alcohol happens to be the drug most likely to be involved in drug-facilitated sexual assault in Canada—yes, more often than so-called "date rape drugs" like Rohypnol aka "roofies"—according to The Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada. Women are also 11 times more likely to be victims of sexual assault than men; young women are particularly at-risk for sexual assault.
Barb MacQuarrie, community director for Western University's Centre for Research & Education on Violence against Women & Children, said that she made the following connection when looking at the 2017 GDS results: "Young women are at risk of sexual violence, both because they're women and because they are young. When we put that together in the context of alcohol... That's a really significant context."
The Global Drug Survey did not ask why those who reported feeling regretful or guilty felt that way; the questions in the alcohol section of the survey related to this data come from the World Health Organization (WHO).
MacQuarrie warned about the potential for victim-blaming that comes up in this situation. "The culture that we're in, we make assumptions. We think that situations go something like: Two people get drunk, their inhibitions are lowered, they do things they wish they hadn't done later."
"I don't think that's an accurate depiction of what I would call 'rape culture,'" she said. MacQuarrie pointed to how offenders can intentionally use alcohol in drug-facilitated sexual assault, buying women drinks, encouraging them to drink more, or seeking out women who have already had too much to drink.
"There are people who have the intention of committing sexual assault and are using this as a tool," MacQuarrie told VICE.
Though the data showed more young women regret a night of drinking or don't remember it more frequently, the opposite is true for those 25 and up. According to the 2017 GDS results, Canadian men 25 or over regret nights of drinking more often than their female counterparts, as well as remember those nights less frequently.
To find out more about how your own drinking habits measure up, you can use The Global Drug Survey's drinksmeter.com to get anonymous and unbiased feedback.
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