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Won't admit there is a drink problem - Is social drinking becoming an issue for women?

Published 10/09/2009

According to a recent survey of 3,000 ladies in the UK women are drinking significantly more than their mother's generation; with one in ten of the women questioned admitting to having a drink every day and a third saying they enjoyed alcohol a few times a week. Most - nearly 80 per cent - drank wine at home, with almost half - 46 per cent - admitting to drinking on their own. What is most interesting about this survey is that it was not carried out amongst 20-30 year olds as would be expected, but 35-60 year old women.

It seems that alcohol is seen by increasing numbers of women as an everyday ‘treat', whereas in former generations, women either rarely drank, or saved alcohol for special occasions. The increase in alcohol consumption in women over the age of 35 is further re-enforced by results released earlier this year by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation that showed that the largest rise in alcohol consumption levels was in women over 65.

So why are women of a ‘certain age' increasingly turning to the bottle? Sue Allchurch, director of Linwood Group, explains further: "From an economic point of view, more women earn their own money than any other previous generation and buying alcohol is 65 per cent cheaper than it was 30 years ago. As far back as 2002, the Office of National Statistics was showing that women from managerial and professional households were drinking more regularly than those from routine manual households. In addition, 30% of full-time working-women drank three or more units at least once a week, compared to 21% of women who were economically in-active.** Also, women are using alcohol increasingly as a way to relax and escape from the stresses of life; whether that be opening a bottle of wine to unwind after a bad day, or going out with friends for a social drink mid-week."

So it seems that economic freedom, pressures of balancing work and family life and a rise in social drinking has led to an increase in alcohol consumption in the over 30's. Although defined as "a casual drink in a social setting, without an intent to get drunk", social drinking can easily move beyond a harmless once a week event to a daily habit. According to Alcohol Concern a third of all women regularly drink more than the government recommended limit - which is 14 units per week for a woman (spaced over a week and not consumed in one or two sessions). The traffic light system, developed by the Linwood Group, is a good way to see if yours, or a loved one's, drinking habits are within safe limits or not. 

For many women it is difficult for them to admit they have a drink problem or even see that their ‘harmless glass of wine' every day might be doing more damage than good. If asked, they would most likely say that they were social drinkers, and yet could not imagine dinner or a bad day without alcohol. If you are unsure if that social drink or two is becoming a damaging habit, Sue Allchurch recommends the following: "Keep an alcohol diary for a week or two and see just how much alcohol you are actually consuming. It will very soon become apparent by doing a diary, if that ‘odd' drink is a regular occurrence or not."

Some of the tell tale signs of having a drink problem can be:

- Using alcohol to get through a difficult situation or painful feelings
- Getting annoyed if others tell you that you should be drinking less
- Defending or hiding your drinking from others
- Finding that you have an increased tolerance to alcohol

If you begin to see that you or a loved one has a negative drinking pattern , or the drink has been a problem for a long time, what is the next step? For professional advice on managing a drinking problem, then why not call Linwood Group on Freephone 0800 066 4173 (or if you are calling from a mobile phone or from overseas, call +441226 698 054) to find out how to get help sooner rather than later?


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