Women and alcohol. A study into the use of alcohol and its place in the everyday lives of women

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Mangan, Mary
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BA (Hons) Counselling and Psychotherapy
Dublin Business School
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This study examines the meaning and practice of alcohol use within the context of working women. The women in this study mainly thought of alcohol as a source for relaxation and to escape from the demands of everyday life. Seventy percent (140) of a sample of 200 women selected from a targeted group responded to the questionnaire. The majority of women surveyed 93% were aged between 26 years and 55 years. Over half the women surveyed were married 59% and 20% reported that they were in a relationship. More respondents were represented in the higher income brackets with 45% earning 60k-100k. The majority of women had drunk alcohol within the last 6 months and wine was their drink of choice. Of the women surveyed a large number are drinking above the recommended limits of alcohol when assessed against the World Health Organization’s (WHO) safe drinking guidelines. (53%) reported to be drinking between 5-10 drinks per drinking occasion and 44% claimed that they drank 2-4 times a week with a further 9% stating they drink more times than that. While the women surveyed reported to be drinking excessive amounts of alcohol, 70% they were not aware of the recommended limits for safe drinking. In contrast the respondents were aware of the risks associated with alcohol misuse. The women surveyed depicted an idealized view of themselves as drinkers and veered away from any negative connotation. As the survey reported they did not perceive their drinking in a negative light, nor did they view themselves as heavy drinkers, but rather as deserving, and hard working women. However they were in fact far less sympathetic or tolerant of other women who they thought had drunk too much. This thesis highlighted women’s attitudes towards other women drinkers. At the same time it also highlighted the blind spot characterised by a dissonance between knowledge and behaviour in relation to their own drinking and their lack of knowledge of their total alcohol consumption. While this data is presented a number of interesting but also worrying trends, there is a scarcity of research and data on women’s use of alcohol in Ireland.