Alcoholism, now called “Alcohol Use Disorder” (AUD) by substance abuse professionals, affects millions of men and women. While men engage in alcohol abuse at higher rates than women (8.4% of men, compared to 4.2% of women), the adverse impact of alcohol abuse and dependence tend to add up much more quickly for women, causing and amplifying many physical, health and social problems. Despite increasing awareness of the dangers of heavy drinking, research shows that the rate of problem drinking is increasing much faster among women than among men. The adverse effects of serious problem drinking increase dramatically as we age. Some of these are the risk of falls, traffic accidents and increased risks for various diseases such as liver failure, stroke, and heart problems.
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), AUD is defined as “a chronic relapsing brain disease characterized by an impaired ability to stop or control alcohol use despite adverse, social, occupational, or health consequences.” AUD can be mild, moderate or severe, with severe AUD overlapping with what is termed alcoholism. Alcoholism and other addictions are among the most shameful secrets women struggle to hide. Revealing this secret and accepting help is key to recovery.
Whether we are concerned about our own drinking or have lived with the effects of another person’s alcoholism, most of us understand the tremendous impact of alcohol on individual and family life. In a culture that continuously promotes alcohol consumption, recovery from alcohol abuse or dependence is a daunting challenge. Fortunately, Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and other quality substance abuse rehabilitation programs provide options for recovery for those who seek to address this most baffling and cunning disease.
Questions to Consider:
1) Has alcohol use been a concern for you or anyone you know? (Please do not reveal anything that you do not wish or are not prepared to share with the group. Your right to privacy is always honored in this group.)
2) How do you define for yourself the difference between “normal drinking”, problematic alcohol use and alcoholism?
3) What do you think might be causing the increase in alcohol abuse, particularly binge drinking, among older women?
4) How have your thinking, attitudes, and beliefs about alcohol changed over the years?
5) Has your personal relationship with alcohol changed over time? How do you feel about your past and present choices?