Female alcoholics are usually not all the time seen in probably the most engaging mild, let’s face it. We endure the stereotype of a pathetic, weeping, mascaraed mess in distinction to our macho, lager lout male counterparts who’re merely anticipated to drink an excessive amount of.
Everyone remembers how the press mocked Amy Winehouse falling out of bars in bloodied ballet footwear on the similar time it was forgiving Russell Brand his outrageous ethanol-related indiscretions. So how can we assist a feminine good friend who seems to be as if she may need a problem with drink past a civilised Chardonnay after work? How can we even inform if there’s a drawback in any respect?
“There are many observable signs that a friend might have a problem with alcohol or even be experiencing an Alcohol Use Disorder,” says George F. Koob, Director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. “These signs include drinking more often and more heavily, not fulfilling obligations at work or home due to drinking (like missing important meetings, frequently showing up to work with a hangover, and not helping one’s kids with homework), and continued drinking despite obvious negative consequences.” Koob advises catching a good friend throughout a sober second and “approaching the topic in a non-judgmental, loving and supportive way.”
But how can we phrase our preliminary statements on this awkward problem? “Adopt language that uses ‘I’ statements and is descriptive rather than evaluative,” he responds. “It is common for people to react defensively when the topic of their alcohol use is introduced. Staying calm and redirecting the conversation back to your concerns for them and your desire to see them safe and healthy is important. As a friend, you can help them see the problems and explore possible solutions but you can’t make their choices for them.”
“The best way to tell if someone has an addiction is if alcohol is affecting any of their Ls: love, liver, livelihood and law,” says Lauren Booker of the charity Alcohol Concern. “It’s not so much about how much you drink or what you drink or where you drink it, it’s what happens when you drink.”
Booker can also be very targeted on the language used to deal with the topic and emphasises that utilizing the phrase ‘drinking’ an excessive amount of could be counterproductive. “If you think your friend has a problem with drink, just tell them you’re worried about them. Rather than saying ‘I’m worried about your drinking’, say ‘I’m worried about you because you’re tired and you have headaches all the time’ or ‘Your work is suffering’ rather than pinning it on the drinking.”
And she’s eager to emphasize that altering your social habits is usually a real assist for a pal who has an issue. “Offer suggestions for things you can do together that don’t involve alcohol. Don’t drink around them, don’t take them to pubs. And understand that relapses are normal.”
Booker talks about how feminine alcoholics are historically extra shamed – and ashamed – relating to their behavior. “Culturally we have very different expectations of men and women when it comes to drinking. People talk about ‘ladettes’. Drinking is considered masculine, not feminine.” Not solely this, Booker says, however the health implications are extra critical too. “Women have a higher ratio of body fat to water so we are more affected by alcohol health-wise. It is more concentrated in our bodies,” she explains. “We have smaller livers, too. If we try and match men drink for drink it will do us a lot more harm.”
“Alcohol addicts people emotionally,” says The Sanctuary’s Sarah Turner. “So if someone is alcohol-dependent, they’re self-medicating instead of going out and having fun. And the stigma means it takes a lot of courage to intervene when you think, ‘Hang on, I am concerned about my friend.’ Women, probably more than men, are creatures of habit. That first drink, there’s no doubt about it, does relax you. It’s the rest that follow which are the problem.”
Turner underscores the truth that on the subject of consuming points, an impulsive nature is a key issue. “People with an alcohol problem don’t have an on-off button,” she explains. “Once we start something we really go for it. But you can flick the switch and consider what you’re getting from it, what it’s giving you. What are the pros and cons of it?” she says. “Quite honestly, if we do drink heavily, it just makes us extremely ill. It’s a hidden epidemic – we’re quite defensive about it, we don’t particularly like discussing it, we make jokes about ‘wine o’clock’.”
She goes on to speak concerning the distinction between ‘normal’ consuming and drawback consuming. “People who don’t have an issue can drink reasonably. The entire idea of social consuming is self-explanatory, however so many women now do drink at house and alone, and have a zillion excuses, however no good purpose.
“When I ask for a list of pros and cons of drinking too much, the list is always very one-sided. If we all went alcohol-free or drank one small glass of wine a day, the pharmaceutical industry would probably collapse – particularly in terms of antidepressants.”
I requested an in depth good friend what she considered being associates with me as a recovering alcoholic. “I wish we could drink normally together,” she responded. “I wish it wasn’t such an issue but I absolutely respect that you are battling a really big demon. I slip up a lot, I know I do. Sometimes a pint on a summer’s day with you would be brilliant, and I do ask, but I know it’s better to invite you to come to the cinema instead,” she added.
“Drinking is fun for me. It’s not for you. And in our culture that’s a difficult issue to address.”
There is not any argument right here. It’s onerous to be a superb good friend to an alcoholic. But with the best angle and recommendation it’s attainable. Don’t inform your pal that ‘one won’t harm’. Don’t assume they will simply reduce down – they could need to cease utterly. There’s a well-liked saying at Alcoholics Anonymous (which, by the way, has ‘open’ help conferences which you can accompany a good friend to): “One drink is too many and a thousand not enough.” For a few of us, that is sadly true.
Words: Charlotte Dingle