Working Mothers and Alcohol Use

Last month, a study from Latrobe University into the drinking habits of Australian working mothers found the normalisation of alcohol as a solution to stress is fuelling alcohol consumption. The study summarised its results as:

Women felt they had to be available to both their employers and their children at the same time. For some, this led to internalised feelings of guilt and fatigue, increasing women’s desire to drink, and limiting their capacity to be mindful of the amount of alcohol they were consuming.

Women also described feeling overloaded and under-supported, where alcohol was viewed as being relaxing and rewarding, as well as a way to escape, cope, and recover from their day-to-day stressors. Furthermore, through a combination of targeted marketing and broader social normalisation, women felt alcohol was presented as a solution to stress and problems among working mothers.

As a leading Grey Area Drinking Coach who has now supported thousands of women to change their relationship with alcohol, this study does not surprise Sarah Rusbatch, Author of the new best-selling Book ‘Beyond Booze, How to create a Life you Love, Alcohol free’

“While many women in my community of over 20,000 are using alcohol to alleviate stress and overwhelm, they don’t realise that alcohol actually causes a rise in our stress hormone cortisol, leading to us feeling even more stressed and anxious. The first thing they notice when they take a break from alcohol is how much their anxiety reduces.”

Rusbatch’s book also dives deep into the alcohol industry’s targeting of women with ‘pink drinks’ and the subsequent normalisation of using alcohol as a ‘reward’ and self care. The health consequences of the decision by the alcohol industry in the 90’s to begin to target women are becoming clearer to see:

  • More cases of liver disease and liver cirrhosis in women, and more alarmingly in young women
  • One in five women aged 40-65 binge drink, the only demographic where alcohol use is going UP
  • 1 in 5 breast cancer diagnoses caused by alcohol (Rusbatch recently called out the McGrath Foundation – a cancer charity for sponsoring a ‘pink beer’ to raise money for breast cancer)
  • Women cannot metabolise alcohol the same way a man can due to their reduced levels of the enzyme ALDH, meaning more alcohol enter’s a woman’s blood stream making her more vulnerable to the health risks of alcohol – yet this information is not shared within all the marketing of alcohol to women
  • Alcohol has been linked to over 60 chronic illnesses and diseases
  • One of Rusbatch’s clients tried to admit herself to a medical rehab facility to help with her alcohol consumption but was turned away for not drinking enough. She was drinking 2 bottles of wine a night

Rusbatch works with women in the ‘grey area’ who do not identify as being alcoholics but do know they are drinking above the recommended units per week and it is negatively impacting their mental and physical health. Her book ‘Beyond Booze, how to create a life you love alcohol free’ has become an instant best seller in Australia. She is a huge advocate for changing cultural norms around alcohol and the direct marketing of alcohol to women as self-care.



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