If you have landed on this webpage, perhaps it is because you have been wondering if you need to cut down on your drinking.
Traditionally, young people have been known for binge drinking, or we have a mental picture of men as alcoholics.
But the truth is, we are finding that more and more, it is middle aged women that are drinking to excess – usually as a way of coping with stress.
Just check out some of these headlines:
- Binge drinking worst among Australia’s middle aged, educated, well-off women
- Why are women over 40 drinking more?
- More older Australians are drinking booze in a risky way
- Alcohol study: Middle-aged women drink more than any age group, Queensland researcher says
- Middle-aged drinking more than the young
Life as a middle aged woman tends to come with a range of challenges. It usually means juggling children, partner, work, running the home, social obligations for the family, and generally managing everybody’s calendar. Often their parents are growing frailer and relying on them more heavily.
From the moment their feet hit the floor, middle aged women are busy and constantly racing against the clock to get everything done. By the time they drop off the kids at school, they already feel like they have done a full day’s work!
Drinking at the End of the Day?
Fast forward to the end of the day … and “wine o’clock”. The kids are finally in bed, dinner, homework etc are all out of the way – and it’s time to collapse on the couch with a glass or two (or more) of wine to relax, or even to help them sleep.
Drinking has become an acceptable way for middle aged women to cope with stress.
The problem is, what starts off as one drink at dinner can become one afterwards as well, and then topping up while sitting watching TV, until a whole bottle is gone.
Although it may not seem to affect day to day functioning (hence the term “functioning alcoholic”), drinking too much has all sorts of negative consequences – from disturbed sleep, to being over the limit when driving to work the next morning.
It can also lead to mental health problems, addiction, and a higher risk of cancer and liver problems.
So how much is too much?
How Much is Too Much?
According to the Australian guidelines 2 standard drinks is okay – this equates to:
- Full strength beer: 285 ml (4.8% alc. vol)
- Mid strength beer: 375ml (3.5% alc. vol)
- Low strength beer: 425 ml (2.7% alc. vol)
- Wine: 100ml (red – 13% alc. vol, and white – 11.5% alc. vol)
- Spirits: 30 ml of spirits (40% alc. vol)
- Pre-mixed drinks: 275ml bottle (5% alcohol content).
For healthy men and women, drinking no more than two standard drinks on any day reduces the lifetime risk of harm from alcohol-related disease or injury; and drinking no more than four standard drinks on a single occasion, reduces the risk of alcohol-related injury arising from that occasion.
What is a Functioning Alcoholic?
And yet … alcohol consumption is on the increase.
Unlike the days of Prohibition a hundred odd years ago, as adults we are free to buy and drink alcohol. However it is important that people are educated about the risks, and only consume in moderation.
If you feel you need to cut down on drinking, that you have become too reliant on alcohol, or your partner, friends or family are concerned about your alcohol consumption, a psychologist or counsellor can:
- support you to make healthier choices;
- help you identify the reasons behind your drinking;
- work with you to tackle these issues;
- and equip your with strategies to change your behaviour.
However, it is important that YOU feel you need to make changes, and acknowledge that your have a problem with alcohol, before seeking out counselling support.
Author: M1 Psychology
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