Research shows that the patterns of drinking and recovery are different for women. And it’s a trend that’s becoming more and more defined as the pressures women experience continue to grow more intense. Gabrielle Glaser, author of Her Best-kept Secret: Why Women Drink—And How They Can Regain Control, published in paperback in July 2014, brings this research into focus in her new book.
She highlights the fact that the women who drink today do so not because they are alcoholics but because they are anxious, depressed, and stressed. And for this reason, groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) aren’t the best forms of sober help. For this reason, Glaser starts her book with: “My name is Gabrielle, and I’m not an alcoholic.” In fact, Glaser points out that AA groups are predominantly unhelpful to women and can actually worsen their problems. Instead, she says that the future lies in “moderation, self-control, and a shift in the way we think about drinking”.
Glaser was recently interviewed by The Fix magazine in which she was able to share the details of her perspective on drinking and women’s sober living. One of the first questions: Why do you think drinking is on the rise among women in America?
Research, Glaser says, indicates that drinking is related to college education. Women are feeling more and more anxiety, more so than they’ve had in the past. In fact, Glaser points out that she herself has lived with an intense anxiety since her early 30’s; she’s now 49, and always thought that those anxious feelings were simply a part of life. She also points to the indelible presence of technology, inability to find freedom from responsibilities, unrelenting bad news, and the rise of career-related competition for women.
Some women might wonder, however, how high status, accomplishment, and achievement can lead to addiction? Yet, in some ways, living a high functioning life could actually be feeding an addiction. It could be a spoke in the wheel of compulsion. It’s common for a perfectionism pattern to be a part of the addiction cycle. It comes down to a need for acceptance and approval. However, perfectionists are trying to get that need filled from outside sources rather than from within. And that’s precisely what feeds an addiction – trying to get something from an outside source (food, sex, alcohol, work, etc) in order to meet a need that can only be filled from within.
And if you’re the type of woman who can accomplish anything, then it might be difficult for you to admit that there’s a problem. Sadly, research shows that the stigma of substance abuse is a major obstacle for women struggling with addiction to seek sober help. The stigma and the associated shame keep them from seeking treatment. In fact, women face a number of challenges that get in the way to accessing treatment. They may fear losing custody of their children. They may feel that they can’t leave their families, or that they have too many responsibilities at work that they can’t step away from.
Fortunately, if you are one of those women who can move mountains, then likely you’re employed. Studies also show that women who are employed and have recovery oriented support systems, similar to the environment found in women’s sober living homes, will have fewer relapses and will be more likely to maintain their sobriety. Plus – and this might go without saying – once a woman makes a decision to enter a women’s sober living treatment center, she’s just as likely as men to achieve her treatment goals. She’s likely to stay sober and create a drug and alcohol-free life.
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