Monday, June 18, 2007

More women seek treatment for alcoholism

There has been a huge increase in the numbers of wine-drinking, middle aged, professional women seeking treatment for alcohol addiction, the clinical director of the Rutland Clinic has said.

"In my view, drinking alone is a very serious symptom of possible trouble," said Stephen Rowen. ’‘We are getting more and more women in the door who are middle-aged and who have not been heavy drinkers since their teenage years.

"They are not women who have always been wild party girls, rather people who would have had an occasional drink, busy careers and families. Suddenly, they find they have a problem with drink and a lot of the reports show that wine is a major feature of that exacerbation. There is more and more of what I call late-onset alcoholism where, in a very short space of time, drinking has become a problem."

Rowen has warned that tippling alone and downing more than two glasses of wine regularly is a major warning sign for women that they may be slipping into high-risk drinking territory.

Rowen said that the clinic, one of Ireland’s foremost addiction treatment centres, was experiencing a surge in the numbers of women in their late 30s, 40s and early 50s presenting as first-time problem drinkers.

He blames a "drinking wine is harmless’’ attitude for the health time-bomb ticking for a generation of middle-class women who think nothing of sinking a bottle of wine on their own.

"Most of us wouldn’t consider drinking vodka while preparing a meal yet when it comes to wine, it is seen as harmless. There is an attitude that wine is okay and that it is good for us. But it is alcohol, and there is a lot of alcohol in a bottle of wine," he said.

"It used to be the case that, when treating women, vodka was the only drink we would ever hear mentioned, now wine is taking over that accolade."

Rowen believes that the government should follow the example of Britain and target middle aged drinkers in a campaign to highlight the dangers of alcohol. Figures indicate that for 85 per cent of the population alcohol will not cause them serious harm at any point during their lifetime.

But Rowen says that the current acceptance of wine consumption has to be tackled and he has urged the government to look at ways of highlighting the problem.

"I think we should do more," he said. "I don’t think we have a truly well developed addiction research centre in Ireland, and I think that is important. I would also like to see the government taking action and announcing, if that is what is needed, that wine is as addictive as any other type of alcohol.

"They need to educate and inform and remind and encourage the public about wine."

source: Sunday Business Post

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