Alcohol addiction is different for women

Alcohol addiction is deeply gendered, and the gendered patterns of abuse require different interventions.

Daiva Repeckaite
Daiva Repeckaite NewsMavens, Lithuania
Alcohol addiction is different for women - NewsMavens
Woman alone, PixaBay

Why this story matters:

Eglė Stankūnė is a Lithuanian activist trying to help women suffering from addiction by filling the gaps in the country's public health system. "There is no recovering from this illness, it's like an allergy that's reactivated when you're near the allergen," she told the Catholic news website Bernardinai. In the interview below, Stankūnė speaks about the specific needs of women who suffer from addictions to alcohol and sedatives.

In her view, time is the greatest gift someone can give an addict, and time is what professionals most lack.

Many women develop multiple addictions when doctors prescribe sedatives to deal with the anxiety disorders that push them towards alcohol in the first place. Lithuania has the highest suicide rate in the EU, and is also the heaviest-drinking country. However, research shows that much of that alcohol is consumed by a tiny fraction of the population, who self-medicate their emotional issues as they deal with unpredictable lives.

For men, alcohol offers a bonding opportunity in a culture that permits very little intimacy among males. Meanwhile, women alcoholics face more stigma and often keep their addiction in secret. While men often refuse to seek help, women are more likely to speak to a doctor about the issue. However, they often receive sedatives as a quick fix.

Details from the story:

  • Eglė Stankūnė founded a community for female addicts eight months ago. She claims that many women addicted to alcohol are also addicted to sedatives, prescribed somewhat carelessly by doctors when they seek help.
  • She shared her story after more than a decade of combating addiction and eventually becoming a volunteer to help others in a similar situation. She says she became addicted to alcohol during her teenage rebellion, when she fled home to marry early. After a divorce and years of secret drinking, she decided to reclaim control of her life and seek help.
  • In 2010, she founded a support group for family members, who she calls co-dependents, as they plan their lives around the alcoholic in their lives and 'beg their bosses not to fire them'.
  • Last year, she created her own community for women. It is a simple house in the countryside, where up to five motivated women suffering from addictions can share their experience with others, follow the Minnesota program, and engage in simple work, such as foraging for herbs, producing candles and soap.
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