Alcohol. What exactly IS a problem drinker?

Sandra* writes…..

“Hi, I am a fit healthy 40 year old woman. I just wanted to know others thoughts about their drinking? If we do like a drink, what is realistically healthy?? Sometimes I feel like a functioning problem drinker even though my therapist assures me I’m not! I work part time, have a toddler and a teenager, I run 6-8km 6 days per week and I try to eat healthy.

But my biggest vice is champagne/wine. How I love to pour that glass at 5pm most days! It gets me through the cooking dinner, eating dinner, bathing the kids, just the stressful time until 8pm. What has happened to me (and it’s scary to say and face it) is that somehow, one glass of wine turned into two which then slowly crept up to a bottle a night…with no side effects the next day.

Apart from some sleep interruption which happens 4 out of 7 nights with the 3 yr old anyway, I was fine. On the outside anyway. But then I started looking for the second bottle to open….not good. Self diagnosis, I decided I was an alcoholic.That word is so bad and to have a drinking problem is so taboo – especially for a woman and a responsible mother!! Self hate/mummy guilt here it all comes. I’m a terrible person etc etc
So then I researched the subject and found that it is very, very common for middle aged women to actually have a problem with drinking. Apparently, we are only meant to drink 100mls per day. That’s like a thimble! But it is the healthy recommendation….SHIT!
So I went cold turkey and gave up my wine which went really well for a few weeks. I did eat a lot of chocolate though. But then the weather started getting nicer and I held a ‘girls night in’ to raise money for cancer. I feel completely hypocritical that I held this. Although we didnt get smashed, I’m sure everyone of us drank more than the recommended 100mls. Then I resumed accepting the invites to Friday afternoon drinks after school pick ups at girlfriends houses where we bitched about husbands/kids. Then it was Melbourne Cup. Just have a social life…my alcohol intake is slowly creeping up… again. I am monitoring it but it’s so easy to slip back into bad habits.Does anyone else love a few wines, especially with the kids going crazy at witching hour?

A few weeks ago on The Today show they had some female doctor on saying that middle aged women are drinking a bit too much and Lisa made a joke about how Mums couldnt give up there 5pm wine (I’m with her!), but I would love to be able to hear from other women about how they feel about drinking. If we drink more than 100mls we are overdoing it??!! What is fair and normal?”


Thanks for sharing that Sandra. What a great Group Therapy question. I thought it might be useful for me to publish the current guidelines around alcohol as found on the Govt’s Health Dept website:

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