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Mongan, Deirdre (2015) Alcohol Action Ireland conference. Drugnet Ireland , Issue 54, Summer 2015 , p. 2.

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Alcohol Action Ireland held their conference Girls, women and alcohol: The changing nature of female alcohol consumption in Ireland on 21 April 2015 in Dublin. International and Irish speakers examined the factors influencing the changing culture of drinking among Irish girls and women, and the harms they are experiencing as a result. 1

Katherine Brown, director of the Institute of Alcohol Studies in the UK, described the changes in female alcohol consumption, from having a large role in the temperance movement to the ‘ladette’ drinking culture in the 1990s, and the recent rise of ‘mummy’s wine time’, whereby wine is now a socially acceptable coping mechanism for women trying to balance work and home life. She said we now live in an ‘alcogenic environment’, and outlined the role that marketing to women by the alcohol industry had played: alcohol is marketed to women as glamorous, sophisticated, feminine, sexy, often placed alongside lipstick, handbags and shoes.

Lucy Rocca, author and founder of Soberistas.com, spoke about her own experiences with alcohol. She described how she previously considered an alcoholic as someone who started drinking at 7am, not a ‘normal woman’ like her with a ‘job and a nice house in the suburbs’. When she ended up in a hospital bed after a night’s drinking, she decided to quit drinking and subsequently founded Soberistas.com, a non-religious, peer support online resource for women with alcohol dependency issues. Within a year more than 20,000 people had signed up to the site, many from Ireland.

Ann Dowsett Johnston, alcohol policy advocate and author of Drink: the intimate relationship between women and alcohol, said that women need to start thinking about their relationship with alcohol. Women tend to use alcohol to self-medicate and turn to alcohol rather than seek help for depression and anxiety. She stated that alcohol is too cheap, too accessible and too heavily marketed.

Clíona Saidléar, executive director of the Rape Crisis Network of Ireland, highlighted the link between alcohol and sexual violence. She said there needed to be a refocus on the perpetrator of such violence and a move away from victim-blaming. She also spoke about the issue of consent and the difficulties in negotiating consent when alcohol is involved.

Dr Triona McCarthy, consultant in public health medicine with the HSE’s National Cancer Control Programme, spoke about the link between alcohol and cancer. She said that breast tissue is particularly susceptible to alcohol-related cancer and that women who drink a small glass of wine every day increase their risk of getting breast cancer by 7–10%.

Dr Orla Crosbie, consultant gastroenterologist at Cork University Hospital, talked about the link between alcohol and liver disease. Liver cirrhosis is no longer a disease generally seen only in older Irish men; 40% of Dr Crosbie’s patients with the condition are female and many of these are mothers with just a short time to live. (Deirdre Mongan)

The presentations may be viewed at http://alcoholireland.ie/girls-women-and-alcohol-the-presentations/#sthash.WM9snKrt.dpuf

Item Type
Article
Issue Title
Date
July 2015
Page Range
p. 2
Publisher
Health Research Board
Volume
Issue 54, Summer 2015
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