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Women turn to drink to cope with recession

THE number of middle-aged women being treated for alcoholism is on the rise, due to the financial strain being put on families.

As the economy continues to worsen, there has been a rapid increase in women coming forward for help in tackling their addiction -- particularly those from middle and higher class backgrounds.

Irish women are struggling to cope with rising unemployment rates and the strain of debt, and are turning to alcohol in the hope of gaining comfort.

Speaking to the Herald, Dr Fiona Weldon, Clinical Director of the Rutland Centre, said that there were a number of factors that triggered addiction.

"Financial matters would be one thing, grief is another, or a relationship breakdown," she said. "Anything that is stressful and painful and difficult."

Dr Weldon explained that these women -- who range up to 80 in age -- would have begun drinking with a glass of wine in the evenings to help them manage their changing days.

However, their habit eventually changed from a nightcap to a necessity.



Triggers

And middle-aged women, who are struggling with 'empty nest syndrome' have turned to alcohol as they struggle to cope with no longer being full-time mums.

"We come from a culture that normalises a lot of drinking," said Dr Weldon.

"The stresses of modern life has caused people's health to suffer.

"Women are losing partners. And these seem to be life triggers for these women, who are very often living alone.

"This may be women who had a glass of wine to relax over the space of one year or two years, then they find themselves in really deep trouble. They start drinking earlier in the day and more often," she said.

"The decade of your 50s tends to be a time when a relationship breaks down, there are changes in the family system."

Dr Weldon added that many women's families across all sectors of society were pushing them to get help.

"People have been very reluctant to come forward for treatment in past, I would hope to think people are willing to come forward a little sooner now," she said.

cmcbride@herald.ie


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