Sisters in Sobriety is an international women’s group in Alcoholics Anonymous. This blog is written by members of the group. If you are a girl/woman, and you are concerned about your own drinking, we hope you can find some valuable information here.
Many of us are young women who for several years knew that we did not drink as “normal” people, but did not believe we were alcoholics. When we hear the word “alcoholic” we often think of the stereotypical image that society maintains; a man aged 60+ who has lost his family, job and friends, who is maybe seen sitting on a park bench or found in a dingy basement room with his bottles. So how could we, especially when we were age 20-25, still with good jobs, studies, relationships, homes etc. relate to that term?
We have seen so many women who know already in their teens or twenties that they have problems with alcohol, suffer unnecessarily because of this misconception. They get very little understanding or help while it is still early, simply because society in general, and doctors in particular, do not understand the disease of alcoholism and how it manifests in women. The tragic consequence of this is that many of us keep on drinking for years or decades longer than necessary, trying to control or manage on our own.
Some of us talked to our doctors, and were told that we didn’t drink too much, or that maybe we could just cut back a little. We felt that the way we drank and the effect alcohol had on us was really not normal, but with plenty excuses, explanations and justification – the truth was that we couldn’t or wouldn’t give it up. When sufficiently scared, maybe we dared venture into an AA meeting, and there we heard people who had drunk daily for 30 years+, and also angry young men relating tales of violence and police charges – call themselves alcoholics. We could not relate, so we went back out, and tried to manage our lives as well as we could. We hadn’t learnt to listen for the similarities, and disregard the differences.
We decided to stop drinking once and for all, and sometimes we managed for a while, but time and time again, we slipped, had just one drink or maybe two, and the obsession to drink more returned and before we knew it we were hiding bottles, planning drinking, drinking alone… all the while trying to keep denying the obvious truth.
That we were alcoholics and couldn’t manage our own lives.
The shame and stigma attached to women drinking excessively means that we have no-one to talk to about this. Even though we KNOW we have a problem, we don’t know what to do about it.
All too often, those women who know they have a problem but can’t relate to the common definition of a stereotypical male alcoholic, end up drinking more and more until they are completely broken down. When their professional and personal lives are in chaos, and they are financially, emotionally, physically and spiritually bankrupt – often also addicted to prescription or OTC medication as well as alcohol… THEN society recognizes that they have a problem, and maybe they get treatment or help in some way. But why does it have to go so far?
We need to talk openly about our experiences as women alcoholics, and young alcoholics, to start changing the way society defines the term “alcoholic”.