Recent statistics from the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education show drinking is on the rise among mid-life women.
“This is not a teenage story. These are women who are usually highly functioning, career-and motherhood oriented, who then begin or return to drinking later in life,” says Dr Janice Withnall, a Western Sydney University researcher who conducted a seven-year study on the issue.
Why are women drinking more in later life?
“I probably felt I'd gone from having quite a big career to now being at home with kids and you can't leave at 4 o'clock and go for a run,” says Sally Doran, 42, a mum of two who travelled the world as a theatrical producer before having children.
After her second child was born she was up to a bottle of wine a night.
“So it's like this is how you relax, you're a mum, have a wine.”
Helen Pennington, 69 – who says she can drink up to a bottle of wine in one sitting – started drinking regularly in her late forties when she moved from regional Western Australia to Perth. By then her children were grown and gone. She says socialising with her neighbours was the reason she started.
“They were wine drinkers and they introduced us to wine which I'd never really had much to do with and so it's gone progressively from there.”
Others say it’s because drinking is ingrained in the culture.
“I was raised to think that it’s un-Australian not to drink,” says mum of three Karen Murray, 50, who drinks three to six Canadian Club whiskies almost every day despite health issues.
Insight explores why women over 40 are drinking more.
If you or anyone you know needs help with an alcohol problem, contact:
- Counselling Online for 24-hr free drug and alcohol counselling: 1800 888 236 https://www.counsellingonline.org.au/
- Family Drug Support Online for 24-hr family support to drug and alcohol users: 1300 368 186 http://www.fds.org.au/
- Alcoholics Anonymous: 1300 222 222