There is no doubt that more Middle Class, Middle Aged professional working Mothers are drinking too much, along with stay at home Mums. Wine seems to be the drug of choice. Over the last 20 years or so it has been normal to drink wine as Mummy’s little helper. I remember that my parents, although both alcoholics rarely drank wine, that was for high days and holidays abroad. Now, at teatime rather than a cup of tea, the school run is done, work is over, supermarket is bulging with cheap deals, and the 3 unit glass is waiting for us. Very worryingly as many as 50,000 women had NHS treatment for alcohol problems between 2008 and 2009, worse, the numbers are rising. The cost to family life is difficult to quantify, the cost to the NHS over 3 billion. On average, at the surgeries that I am involved with at least six women a week are presenting with liver disease of varying degrees, within the age group of 30-40. Rather than asking for help before heading down the slippery slope on well oiled skis, they are in the process of killing themselves. In addition, because they have no intention of admitting to heavy drinking, they claim depression, alcohol is a depressant, and are prescribed anti-depressants which they take with their vino. Their drinking habits are rarely questioned.
Alcohol seems to be one of the most misunderstood legalized drugs there is. Often feted, particularly in soap operas as the cure all, the social oil of society, that up to that invisible line that seperates the moderate from the hazardous, it is completely acceptable. Once crossed though, we immediately castigate and shun.
Because of the dreadful stigma, many professional women are heading to Eastern Europe for treatment. Why is this such a taboo subject?? Why can’t we treat this cancer of the soul like any other? None of us are frightened to talk about breast cancer, heart disease, dementia, all three by the way can in many cases be connected to heavy drinking, why the big deal about problem drinking?
Some of my clients have told me that they love the fuzzy feeling that a couple of glasses brings, and if they could control it, they would stay in that state permanently. It counteracts the dissatisfaction in their lives, it helps them juggle the plethora of daily jobs to do, work, children, partners. There seems to be a determination not to be abstinent, but to drink moderately through the week, and then get more than tipsy at the weekend, especially Fridays. Invariably this ends up with chaotic drinking, with self imposed limits being broken, over 60 units a week is very normal, with catastrophic bingeing at the weekends. I tell them about my drinking because I see so many of the same triggers I once had.
I often attempted control. I would be so hungover that I would go for a few days without any booze. After about day 5, having gone through excruiating withdrawals, sweats, shakes, sickness, I felt good, looked much better, treated myself to lots of sugar to stop the cravings that the grape had given me, and was in overdrive, hyper almost. Was insistent that I could do this moderate thing. So by about week two, sometimes much longer, I would have a couple of glasses. Within a week, I was back up to a bottle, the cravings were stronger each time I tried, and inevitably I fell off the wagon with spectacular results. Eventually I was dying. Slowly but surely my body was shutting down. I didn’t want to die, but I didn’t want to live either.
I will go into my drinking career and how I nearly met the Spirit in the Sky before an ex alcoholic saved my life.