Yesterday, this article was published in USA Today with all sorts of truly terrible news related to alcohol addiction, particularly in women:
PLEASE take a few minutes to read it if you can.
There are several things in it I feel like I must talk about, that have been heavy on my heart since I first read it yesterday.
First, the article states that alcohol related deaths among women increased 67% from 2007 to 2017 while they increased 29 percent among men during the same time period. This is just staggering.
What’s more, because women tend to abuse alcohol quietly, people around them frequently don’t even realize that they have a substance abuse problem. This has become even more true with the rise of “mommy wine culture,” which seems to normalize daily wine everywhere, more or less.
There are several different stories in this article and they were all hard to read but one really just hit me like a 2×4.
Towards the end of the article, it tells Ellen O’Grady’s story. She is a nurse practitioner, now turned wellness coach.
(A quick aside for my newer readers, I’ve been a nurse for 15 years now and I went back to school to become a health coach when I was no longer physically able to work in nursing.)
There was so much of her story I could relate to: not getting drunk every day, but drinking wine, all evening, every night. Knowing in her heart that absolutely wasn’t okay.
And, then, she described her “last night out” twelve years ago with a school teacher friend, the evening ending with her friend throwing up in her car. For her, that was the end.
Similarly, my last party out drinking was just a regular holiday party at one of our friend’s houses, where, for the second party in a year, I drank SO much more than I ever did – and found myself blackout drunk. I wasn’t driving. I didn’t DO anything untoward. It wasn’t anything like that. It was just the combination of the awful feeling of losing control in that way, and the sick feeling over my daily wine drinking, that, THANK GOD, lead me to my ENOUGH.
What she said, though, that just knocked the floor out of my stomach was about her teacher friend. Her friend taught for the last time last fall and was admitted to the hospital in end stage liver failure the next day. She died on hospice right after New Years.
And at her funeral?
At least 15 people were SHOCKED to learn that she died of alcoholism. Because only her immediate family and two other people knew she was suffering from addiction and had progressed to drinking a 1/2 gallon of vodka a day.
In women, alcoholism often is a quiet, well-hidden, and deadly disease.
Another part of this article that has me on my head a bit – and feeling frantic to *DO SOMETHING!* – hell, to do ANYTHING, to help, is that Alabama, my state, is third in the nation in alcohol related deaths for women.
I can think of many reasons for this, from lack of funding for treatment to a huge stigma around addiction to lack of education and so many others. And it is so heartbreaking.
I sat and read the stories of people that were shared with pictures in this article as well and it just breaks my heart. A parent who found her beautiful 26 year old daughter dead. A 32 year old mother of three. Another 32 year old who drank himself to death in six years time. It’s devastating.
So, I realize I may seem to harp on the subject of alcoholism and addiction at times – but I HAVE to.
Silence equals death. I believe that with all of my heart.
Often, people, particularly women, aren’t seeking help due to shame and fear of judgment, so I, and my whole big fabulous community, tell our stories loudly and often in the hopes that telling them will help just one person.
If you are struggling, so much help is available:
Also, much support is available on Instagram. For example, hashtags: #sobermovement #soberlife #wedorecover #wearetheluckiest #notanonymous #hipsobriety And there are many more.
Some great accounts to follow, to get started, and meet sober ladies:
- holly (formerly hip sobriety – helped me so so much in the beginning. I recommend reading her previous hipsobriety.com blog posts – so many are helpful – and following her.)
- laura_mckowen (also a huge help!)
- kristintothemax (freaking love her! ahhmazing!)
Of course, you can follow me as well at theautoimmunehippie, if you like.
And, as always, if you are in crisis, PLEASE present to the nearest emergency room. They WILL help you, regardless of insurance status. Don’t hesitate. Seek help.
One last thing I’ll be doing that I’ve added to the planner – if it’s not written there, it’s gone from this spoonie brain – is Sober Saturdays here on the blog. It is important to talk about sobriety related topics and recovery – and, no, they aren’t all heavy like this. 😉
So, talk I will, I want to do what I can to help.
Silence equals death.
Be well, everybody. Take care of yourselves and your people.
Grace and Blessings. ❤