Women and Alcoholism: The Role Shame Plays
Amy was a pastor’s wife, mother of three, and model community member. She was also an alcoholic, secretly guzzling wine in her morning coffee mug and hiding her all-day drinking from her family. Like other women who struggle with addiction in private, she had put pressure on herself to be perfect and was ashamed to admit that she wasn’t.
In a new video at BeSmartBeWell.com, Amy shares her story and how she eventually overcame her shame to seek treatment for her addiction.
“Am I guilty of doing some things that I would never do in a normal mind? Absolutely. But I have to let that go or it’ll just keep me trapped and eventually returned back to using. I don’t have the luxury of feeling shame,” she says in the video.
Shrinking gender gap
In the United States, about 18 million people are alcoholics, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Studies show that while more men abuse alcohol, women who abuse alcohol are more likely to have significant health—and more of them—than their male counterparts. For example, female alcoholics have death rates 50 to 100 percent higher than those of male alcoholics.
What’s more, binge drinking is a serious problem among US women, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Nearly 14 million US women binge drink almost three times a month, consuming an average of six drinks per binge.
Ashamed to admit there’s a problem
Karen, a recovering alcoholic featured at besmartbewell.com/addiction, was one of those binge drinkers. An Ivy League graduate and successful attorney, she started drinking wine to deal with work stress, but soon became dependent. She was reluctant to admit she had a problem, though she regularly consumed three bottles of wine a night.
“I was ashamed,” she says in the video Treat It Like a Disease. “Because I didn’t want my husband to find bottles around the house, I would put them in my briefcase and walk down the street and dump them in the garbage cans on my way to work.”
Like Amy, Karen was able to overcome her addiction when she let go of her shame and, with the help of her family, sought medical treatment. At besmartbewell.com/addiction, leading experts explain how stigma prevents some women from seeking treatment and how to help someone who is struggling with addiction.
Besmartbewell.com/addiction provides practical information about the roots of addiction and how to help an alcoholic or drug addict. The website includes:
* Interviews with leading health experts
* Real-life stories of recovered alcoholics like Amy and Karen
* A quiz to test how much you understand about addiction
* Reputable resources and links for more information
At the site, visitors can also sign up for the bimonthly Spotlight Newsletter and biweekly News Alerts for more in-depth articles and breaking news on addiction and other important health topics.