Going for the bottle: Rise in middle-aged women coming forward with alcohol addiction

Rehab clinics and GP surgeries are reporting an increase in middle-aged women, particularly mothers, coming forward with alcohol addiction issues. This comes after the UK enters its eleventh month in lockdown restrictions.

A report released by Alcohol Change UK stated that 1 in 3 people have consumed more alcohol in 2020 than in 2019. 20% of people were also concerned about the amount they have been drinking since COVID-19 restrictions began. 

One of the most affected demographics is middle-aged women, especially mothers. The report suggested that those with children under 18 are more likely to have a drinking problem than those living with an adult or no children. 

This rise seems to go hand in hand with middle-aged women coming forward with anxiety issues. In 2018, Public Health England reported that 54% of people in alcohol treatment also need mental health treatment, due to alcohol acting as a depressant.

Dr Fiona Clark, a GP based in Cambridge, stated: “lockdown has had a particular effect on middle-aged mothers who not only feel stress for themselves but also for their family”. 

Dr Clark highlighted that women are getting stuck in a “vicious cycle” as the heightened anxiety causes them to drink more. Furthermore, she went on to say “the feelings of guilt that come with a hangover is also a trigger for women in this position”.

Dr Clark went discussed how the pandemic has taken away the ability to treat oneself, turning to alcohol to take the edge off. She urges women to feel like it is worth getting help and to make sure they put themselves first and not just their families.

The most recent lockdown has proven to be the main catalyst for this increase and a rehab centre in Bradford even saw a 70% rise in admissions for alcohol addiction over the last 4 months of lockdown. Craig Sibson, a member of the focused intervention team, from forward Leeds an alcohol and drug addiction service said, “addiction doesn’t discriminate” and often people are in denial about their reliance on alcohol. He advises during this time where our lives are very repetitive to have as much of a change in scenery as possible, to make sure we are able to not get stuck in a routine that leads to regular excessive drinking. 

Laura O’Shaughnessy, 42 and a full-time mother of four, recently went sober to help combat the anxiety she was feeling after having alcohol. She describes her feelings now being “more positive” and her “skies are very blue” since going sober. She advises taking advantage of the clarity that being sober brings you and working on your mental health instead.  

This January saw the UK’s largest amount of people recorded as participating in ‘Dry Jan’. 6.5 million people ditched the booze this January and whilst alcoholism is on the rise there’s more access to help than there ever has been.

If you have been affected by anything in this article see below for some helpful links:

https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/alcohol-support/

https://www.alcoholics-anonymous.org.uk/

https://www.forwardleeds.co.uk/

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