Postpartum depression triggered Ashley Hartshorn’s alcohol use disorder – and, after just five years of alcohol abuse, she died leaving her three children behind.
“She wanted so badly to quit drinking, but the shame and the fear kept her from being able to allow herself to reach out for help,” Ashley’s mother told USA Today. “Like many, we were ignorant to the effects that alcohol has on the body. I thought she had time, time to hit rock bottom and time to seek help.”
Amy Durham, who grew up with a father who abused alcohol, began drinking in her 30s and said she came close to dying from alcohol at age 40. She wound up in triple organ failure and in a coma for 10 days.
“I didn’t even know what was happening to me,” she told USA Today. Amy said unresolved childhood trauma, a stressful job, a “toxic” romantic relationship and infertility all contributed to her drinking. “I just needed to be numb,” she said.
Nurse practitioner and mother of two Eileen O’Grady, who quit drinking 12 years ago, said she would drink continually from dinner until bedtime and then start again the next evening. Stefanie Wilder-Taylor, writer of “Sippy Cups Are Not for Chardonnay,” believes this sort of alcohol abuse stems from stubborn gender roles and norms surrounding stress.
Unfortunately, these stories are becoming more and more common as deaths related to alcohol are increasing – with women being hit the hardest. According to a new analysis by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, from 2007 to 2017, alcohol-related deaths rose 85 percent among women. During the same period, death rates rose among men by 29 percent and teen deaths from drinking were down about 16 percent.
Experts are calling alcohol a growing epidemic, outpacing the death toll of our current opioid crisis. To date, roughly 72,000 people die of opioid overdose each year versus roughly 88,000 from alcohol – through cancer, liver cirrhosis, pancreatitis, pregnancy related complications and suicide.
Women are more susceptible to these alcohol-related risks than men – and, what’s worse, less than 6 percent of female drinkers get help for an alcohol disorder.
Help for Women With Alcohol Use Disorder
While there’s a growing pressure to drink, problem drinking is still stigmatized. But greater awareness and efforts to seek treatment can help remedy this. If you’re concerned about your drinking and want help, or want to learn more about our rehab services for women, call today: 866-746-1558.