1 August 2023 | 17:17
Grace Adams spent her first six months living in Manhattan drinking it all – literally.
Fresh out of the COVID-19 lockdown and a newcomer to NYC, the 25-year-old brunette was soon tasting cocktails and drinking glasses of wine with friends every weekend. She assumed it was a necessary evil of big-city living when she moved from her hometown of Baltimore into her Gramercy Park apartment in February 2022.
That’s what every fun, single and carefree NYC woman appeared on social media to do.
“I was in town in my early 20s partying and drinking,” Adams, who had a penchant for gin and tonics, told The Post. “New York is a nightlife, a party environment. I thought I wouldn’t have fun if I didn’t drink – I loved it.”
Adams shares her personal story after a new study revealed that increasing numbers of women suffer alcohol-related deaths, according to research published in JAMA Network this week.
Researchers from NY’s Hofstra University, Harvard Medical School and the University of South Carolina analyzed nearly 606,000 alcohol-related deaths between 1999 and 2020, based on data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
While men have historically been more than twice as likely to die from alcohol-related conditions compared to women, the gap is narrowing, researchers reported. Men’s mortality increased by 12.5% between 2018 and 2020, while the rate among women increased by 14.7%, the researchers found.
Inspiration for social media
Adams — a self-proclaimed “party girl” who refused to give up binging after graduating from Southern Methodist University in 2020 — moved to NYC for a job in customer service at a major midtown ad agency.
Every Friday she anxiously looked at the clock and waited for it to strike. 15. That’s when her drinking began.
She rushed home to get her spirits back up before meeting up with her friends to sip some more and then drink the night away at bars and clubs. Her liquid indulgence spilled over into her on Saturdays and Sundays, when she guzzled down at least 10 shots of hard alcohol every day, leaving her blacked out until Monday morning.
“Drinking is what we’re told to do on social media and (the movies) when you have no responsibilities,” Adams said.
And she’s not wrong.
TikTok happy hours
Under buzzing TikTok hashtags like #NYCDrinks and #NYCParty, which have garnered 71.7 million and 55.6 million views respectively, high-minded Gen Z and millennial women clink glasses filled with colorful mixed drinks at happy hour and pop bottles of champagne in the posh lounge. and chugs beer during summer excursions. Hitting the bottle after a hard day dominating the Big Apple is a common theme in movies like “How to be Single” and the “Sex and the City” franchise.
But heavy drinking among women in their 20s and early 30s is becoming less of a life-threatening life hack and more of a life-threatening problem.
In fact, a June 2023 study on women’s drinking habits in the United States, conducted by researchers at Boston University, found that childless women aged 35 are at the highest risk of binge eating and alcohol consumption—due to the recent increase in women choosing to delay parenthood to the late 30s and beyond. The report also noted that women who turned 35 between 2018 and 2019 were nearly 60% more likely to drink alcohol or report AUD symptoms — including blackouts, dizziness, vomiting and anxiety — than women who turned 35 between 1993 and 1997 .
And after months of non-stop flicking, these symptoms became the painful norm for Adams.
“I would go in and out of blackouts over the weekend. I would wake up hungover and with all this anxiety about what I might have said or down the night before,” she said.
“I would have throbbing headaches and would feel extremely nauseous,” Adams continued. “But the mental gymnastics of trying to remember what had happened (while drinking) was so exhausting. I literally couldn’t get out of bed.
“I was depressed because I felt stuck in this toxic cycle,” she added.
Embrace the label
But on August 3, 2022, she called for help.
“I called my mom and said, ‘I’m in pain and I can’t stop drinking,'” Adams recalled. Days later, her parents checked her into rehab at the Ashley Addiction Treatment Center in Havre de Grace, Maryland, where she received specialized care for 28 days.
“It was the best decision I ever made,” she told The Post, noting that recovery did not come without obstacles.
“In the beginning, I couldn’t even say ‘I’m an alcoholic,'” Adams said. “The best I could do was say, ‘I’m Grace and I’m powerless over alcohol,’ because I didn’t think of myself as an alcoholic.
“When people hear that term, they think of an old guy drinking in the park, not necessarily a young one (who looks like me),” she continued. “But after a while I embraced the (alcoholic) label because it helped me understand that I had a problem.”
After his stay, Adams returned to Manhattan, quit his job and moved into the Release Recovery sober house on the Upper East Side.
She lived there for four months with a group of other 20-year-olds overcoming addiction.
“I met all these young, cool, beautiful women who were living the life I wanted to live,” she said of her sober-living roommates. “It was difficult at first to maintain sobriety in a city where people used to party. I cried for hours when I moved in, but everyone was so supportive.”
And now Adams had dedicated her life to offering that same support to other women. She currently works as a counselor at Recovery Release and shares the daily triumphs of her sobriety journey with her growing “Sober Not Boring” audience of over 10,000 followers on TikTok.
“Before I got help, I didn’t realize that young women in New York City were getting sober and staying sober because the binge-drinking culture is so prevalent here,” said Adams, who now enjoys juicy mocktails and sodas when she hanging out with friends.
She has also started training for the New York City Marathon – her first ever long run, scheduled for November.
“I’ve learned there’s no need to dilute your life with alcohol,” she said, just two days before her one-year sobriety anniversary.
“This has been the best year of my life.”
New York City