Women, Wine and Loneliness. Do these voices resonate with you?

Women and their relationship with wine in Ireland is quite a serious problem. Irish women are drinking more than previous generations and the problem is progressing. Binge drinking alcohol is the most prevalent form of problem drinking for women. As an addiction and recovery counsellor and psychotherapist working with women’s health, these three words spring to mind all of the time – women, wine and loneliness. These are the hidden thoughts and voices of women who struggle with wine and loneliness starting therapy.

I usually start at about dinner time and have a glass while making dinner. I spend the day looking forward to that moment. The sound of the bottle lid clicking open even helps me to wind down.

Take a read of my recent article 10 Great Books About Giving Up Alcohol & Positive Sobriety

Does this sound familiar? Women are under more external pressure than ever before, alcohol is cheap, wine is glorified and the stresses that the modern woman and isolated mother is under make turning to wine a simple yet ineffective coping mechanism. The problem is however that when you keep turning to wine, you increase your sense of loneliness and thus an unhealthy cycle progresses. Weaved through this article are familar statements by women expressed in psychotherapy about their relationship to wine and loneliness.

Drinking wine, home alone

Possibly one of the more common and corrosive habits for women is drinking wine alone, at home, regularly, a lot. I often work with women who come into therapy in secret because their problems and concerns around wine consumption are intentionally hidden from everyone.

Here lies the obvious problem relating to excess wine drinking alone. Even if no one knows- it can still be a serious problem and is more likely to progress from a mild to moderate alcohol use disorder unnoticed. Your brain can churn up a hundred seemingly acceptable reasons to take a drink today -and forget the millions of reasons you previously found why not to drink again – ever.

You may be interested in [30 signs you may have a problem with alcohol]

The Europeans drink more wine than Ireland, it’s in their culture also but they socially drink in the safe surroundings of family, extended relatives and community. Irish women drink wine socially but also increasingly in an unsocial way, on some level anticipate the same warm social experience. Guess what? It doesn’t and causes loneliness and isolation.

I wish I didn’t drink like this.’

I don’t know what else I would do in the evening.’

I feel pathetic drinking at home alone, what have I become?

What you need to understand when it comes to using a drug such as alcohol to numb your stresses, loneliness, emotions and internal chit-chat, is that it not only disconnects you from your problems temporarily, but it also disconnects you from your sense of self progressively. What happens when you do not feel connected with yourself? That’s right, loneliness and disconnection from all that is purposeful, important and authentic to you.

I hate myself for doing this and yet, I look forward to it, it is insane.’

This is not who I am.’

Say that again! It decreases your ability to cope

Leaning on drinking wine throughout the week to cope actually decreases your ability to cope. Say that again! It decreases your ability to cope, tolerate stress, self-regulate and increases various forms of stress you are experiencing. Wine, I mean alcohol, slows down all the systems in your body causing more stress. That’s the stress you can’t see. Your body works hard to eliminate alcohol. As you increase your tolerance for alcohol, you decrease your tolerance to deal with stress and adversity. Did I mention it also increases anxiety? Alcohol significantly increases anxiety symptoms and is a depressant.

Loneliness is a feeling that no amount of wine can replenish

Loneliness is a feeling that no amount of wine can replenish. What will begin to soothe strong feelings of loneliness and disconnect are fulfilling, rewarding and nurturing thoughts, feelings and experiences – and of course connection with others.

I work with women and alcohol use disorder daily and hear the same saying over and over again. It’s just so easy to drink, it’s just wine. Yes, it is so easy to drink, convenient, available and dare I say effective in the extremely short term BUT, what is absolutely not so easy about its easiness is the impact on your psyche, self-esteem and physical health.

Zero low-risk guidelines

This is also a good time to make the scientific statement that there are zero low-risk guidelines when it comes to alcohol consumption, only low-risk guidelines. If as a woman you would like to stay within the low risk guidelines each week that is drinking less than 2 bottles of wine a week with a gap of two days of zero alcohol. Every day in Ireland, women are exposing themselves to the many health risks associated with alcohol while simultaneously trying to destress and relax.

It’s not ‘JUST’ a bottle of wine

The next time you find yourself saying on a weekday as you stroll down like prey to the unavoidable alcohol aisle, an easy target to the alcohol industry, it’s just a bottle of wine. Remind yourself, it’s not JUST a bottle of wine. Drinking alcohol comes with an astounding number of negative consequences on your health, dehydration, fatigue, sleeplessness, blood and hormone disruption, increase in heart and blood pressure and risk of stroke and cancer.

Your body and brain must work hard to process alcohol and restore balance in the days after drinking just two glasses of wine. Alcohol is always putting your body under unnecessary stress. If you are on medication, alcohol makes it less effective.

The more you drink, the more you disconnect

You are probably wondering why I just focused so much on the health implications of problem drinking. Well, this is the reason. Alcohol not only depletes the body of vital energy nutrients and nourishment. It also depletes your connection to self as you numb out. Loneliness comes from a strong sense of feeling disconnected from others, and yourself. The more you drink, the more you disconnect from yourself… and others. Hence a downward cycle into loneliness. More drinking and more disconnect.

It is also not just a bottle or just a glass. For those women who have become problem drinkers or dependent on alcohol in some way, it leads to another and another.

The biggest catch of all. It’s far more than the time spent physically drinking isn’t it? Most agree that the time spent thinking about it, buying, planning, waiting and also recovering from just a drink is what takes up the most time in the day or week. And then there is the eternal internal bargaining, debating and trying to self-mediate about whether to drink or not, how much, how little, when, where and with who.

All that time takes away from quality time in your life. Energy best spent on enjoyable experiences and activities. The mental energy that could be channelled into something rewarding – a new hobby, a book, a college course, quality time spent with your family.

Connection is the antidote to loneliness. Connection with self, others and dare I sound fluffy, connection with the world, nature, your community, the environment, and the beauty of life and living.

Women and wine are easily targets

Women are the targeted prey, I should say consumer market of the wine and retail industry in Ireland. If you have developed a problem with wine, it’s a social-cultural phenomenon. Marketing and advertising strategies keep you drinking. Retail stores keep directing you down alcohol aisles. The small token alcohol-free section sits neatly by the entrance to off licence area. Every social and celebratory event prompts women to flirt with wine in some fashion. And be buy it.

We have been led to believe that wine is different, advertising sells us that everywhere we look. Wine is classy, sophisticated, and glamorous, isn’t it? That’s how it is sold to us. The simple fact is that the same alcohol in your bottle of wine is the six-pack of larger or the bottle of cheap gin. Alcohol is alcohol – a drug. And reliance on drugs including alcohol lead to problems, inter conflict, discontentment and loneliness. The high is temporary.

Many women who drink wine feel conflicting thoughts, this is called the contemplation phase. It is often a relationship that started well but which slowly turned unhealthy. Wine gives you nothing nourishing in return. Like all crappy relationships that begin good, you end up giving far more than you ever got back in return.

Time to stop giving and getting nothing in return

What happens when you keep giving yourself to something and getting nothing rewarding back in return? We lose our sense of self and battle with self-doubht. We believe we can do better but in equal measure, don’t quite believe or realise we deserve change.

Do these words sound familar to you?

I feel like I can’t stop.

What else would I do if I didn’t drink in the evening, it’s just boredom.

My job is so stressful, it helps we switch off at night.

It’s creeping in during the week.

It’s my reward for a tough week.

I’m drinking alone and I know its not good for me.

It used to be weekends and not its anytime in the week.

I used to joke about wine o’clock, now anytime is wine and dine time.

And finally…

I’m lonely, and it’s a comfort. Like a soft warm blanket being wrapped around me in the evenings.

Life outside the loop

So my questions to you today if this resonates with you are…

If you were not drinking wine and feeling lonely, what else would you like to do?

What nourishes you in life?

What does life look like without even a single thought of that ‘glass of wine‘?

How is wine causing you to drag your way through the week, instead of skip through the days?

Who do you want to be in life?

What are you missing out on?

What activities, experiences and things does your heart desire?

How much would you save in one year if you stopped for 12 months?

What has wine every truely given you?

And finally, how can you experience positive feelings, emotions, joy, happiness, calm and relaxation without alcohol?

If you can identify with any or all of this article let’s talk about it. Book an online 30 or 60 minute online therapy appointment today.

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Orlagh Reid Psychotherapy

Orlagh Reid

Orlagh Reid is an IACP accredited Counsellor & Psychotherapist, Addiction Counsellor, Gottman Couples Therapist and Fertility Counsellor in private practice based in Co. Kildare, Ireland and worldwide online via DOXY. She specialises in addiction, recovery, well-being and clinical sexology. To find out more or to book an online consultation visit www.orlaghreid.ie

Orlagh Reid Psychotherapy MIACP Therapy Ireland

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