Helping women with alcohol problems

It has been said that when a woman has an alcohol problem, there is a man in her life with a similar problem—usually her partner or her father. When the partner also drinks heavily, he should if possible be involved in treatment. Other partners may be overinvolved and have adopted a controlling role, especially if she has been unreliable with the children, money, the car, etc. The woman's resentment at this can fuel the drinking, and it may need months to elp her to see how this has come about to help the partner stop checking her behaviour and to restore trust.

Low self-esteem is very common in such women, even in those who were confident before the drinking got out of hand. The partner, while remaining firm about the unacceptability of her drinking, may need help to be more caring and positive, to show interest in what concerns her, and to show appreciation.

Resentments towards family, employer, and partner are common and sometimes lead to depression. Women with alcohol dependence can be helped psychologically to abstain in several ways.

• Help her to stop feeling taken for granted, and to know that she has a right to set limits on what others expect of her.

• Although guilt may be proportional to what she has put her family through by her drinking, it may not help. It may prevent her from asking for the conditions at home or work that would make it easier for her to stop drinking.

• Help her find ways of recharging her batteries by, for example, taking up new interests or exercise.

• Talk with the partner, both alone and with her present. He may want to know that she acknowledges the strain on him. While accepting complete responsibility for her drinking, she can let him know what he can do to help her. • Self-help literature is available in many languages to help women improve self-confidence and self-assertion. (62)

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