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A holistic approach to alcohol use in women

Oct 30, 2019 | Psychology

We don’t notice ‘the creep’. We underestimate ‘the creep’. We laugh with our friends, we normalise it, we might deny its existence to ourselves and others for months or years but for some people at some point in time it becomes undeniably problematic.

A little info from Louise:

I have been working as a registered Psychologist for 25 years. I have worked in many different settings such as Youth Detention, Domestic Violence Services, Alcohol and Drug Services and Private Practice. I am passionate about my work, about assisting people to heal and create meaningful, purposeful lives. I’ve developed special interests in a few areas, one of which is alcohol use in women.

It’s an issue that many women don’t feel comfortable talking about or acknowledging. There’s a great deal of shame and embarrassment attached to the notion of women being ‘drunk’.

Over the past 5 years or so I have seen an increasing number of women in their 30s, 40s and 50s who are struggling with what I call ‘wine o’clock creep’. It seems to start with managing that stressful time of the day – getting home in a rush to organise dinner after running around to various after school activities, washing to be done and brought in, dishes, groceries, lunches for tomorrow – the list is endless and repetitive.

What starts as a glass of wine whilst preparing dinner to ‘relax’ becomes a bigger glass of wine, then two small ones then two larger ones, then a bottle and so on. We don’t notice ‘the creep’. We underestimate ‘the creep’. We laugh with our friends, we normalise it, we might deny its existence to ourselves and others for months or years but for some people at some point in time it becomes undeniably problematic.

I often see women in therapy when the ‘creep’ has become problematic.

Women will present to therapy with:

  • relationship conflict or unhappiness
  • insomnia
  • tiredness and exhaustion
  • overeating
  • weight gain, inability to lose weight
  • loss of motivation
  • depression
  • anxiety

When we explore the processes of everyday life ‘the creep’ slides out from the shadows. Feelings of shame and frustration at not being able to change drinking behaviour are common, as is the daily thought “tonight’s the last night, tomorrow I’ll stop”.

People will often ask about abstinence, saying that they don’t want to stop drinking completely. I’ve seen lots of people change from problematic drinking to social drinking, and have also seen lots of people function best through maintaining abstinence from alcohol. Everyone is different. I ask people to approach this question and the whole issue with curiosity, exploring without judgment. The judgement paralyses and creates shame, which we try and avoid through – you guessed it – drinking!

In therapy we explore, we identify the nuts and bolts, triggers and drivers and plan and implement experiments to explore how to reduce or how to stop. There is no one size fits all when it comes to behaviour change.

It’s important to remember that change is possible and assistance is available.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions about the services I provide.

Some helpful resources:

https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/managing-your-alcohol-intake

https://www.health.gov.au/contacts/national-alcohol-and-other-drug-hotline-contact