Young women's drinking level 'scary'
MANY young women are now drinking at levels that are "scary", according to Dr Colin O'Gara, head of addiction services at St John of God Hospital, in Dublin.
"They can drink anything up to two to three bottles of wine a night, every night. There has been a noticeable increase in the presentation of young, dependent drinkers," he said.
"Young female drinkers appear to be drinking at the same levels as their male counterparts. This is alarming from a physical perspective. Recent data suggests increasing liver problems in this group, specifically cirrhosis."
He pointed to Ireland's generic cultural problem with alcohol and said drinking wine could be more acceptable to a certain group of individuals.
"It is associated with dinner parties but you can see it slowly but surely invading the week. A few glasses can turn into a bottle and two bottles and so on.
"Like any addiction there are strong levels of denial about what is acceptable and what is not," he added.
"I would see a lot of people in an occupational setting and the stress can be enormous.
"People are putting themselves under huge pressure.
"It's having repercussions, particularly depression and anxiety and the development of addictions," he added.
"Alcohol can be an apparent solution and in the short term help with sleep. These people are stressed out. They are waking at 5am. That becomes 4am and then 3am.
"You have people using alcohol to get back to sleep in the middle of the night and then driving under the influence. That is another reason for referral to me."
He said the level of insight of people referred to addiction services varied.
Some people are ready for treatment and ready to change, but for a significant proportion their insight into their condition is not good.
Rolande Anderson, an alcohol counsellor in the Charlemont Clinic in Dublin, said there was also a definite trend of increased drinking among older women.
"Most of that is wine drinking and most of it is at home. In my experience in the last couple of years, I have seen a large increase in women over the age of 40 drinking a lot of wine.
"It often starts as a routine and then it drifts into something more than that over a period of time. By the time they see me, they often have quite significant signs of alcohol dependence.
"They start to suffer problems, such as drinking in secret, family rows, more isolation from social contacts and hiding alcohol from family members.
"Daily drinking is a problem on its own and people should have three or four drink-free days while sticking to recommended units," he said.