Limit your drinking before drinking limits you
Research shows that same-sex attracted women are more likely to drink more frequently and to excess compared to their heterosexual counterparts, especially as they get older. This is a worrying trend that is often overlooked. There are many complex reasons why any of us turn to alcohol as a stress release: relationship problems, work related issues, lack of meaning in life, self-medicating to alleviate anxiety, a social lubricant that makes us feel less awkward or shy - the list goes on. Within the lesbian and bisexual communities there can also be the often intense pressure of belonging to a minority group that suffers from the effects of stigma, discrimination and, in extreme cases, abuse. This is especially hard if a woman’s social support networks and family are not entirely accepting of her sexuality, thereby leaving her with a feeling of isolation and shame for being different.
The issue is that we know only too well the long term physical and psychological effects that drinking can have on our bodies and minds, including but not limited to: liver disease, brain damage, increased risk of diabetes and cancer, lack of libido, and because alcohol is a depressant it can also seriously affect our moods and create mental health issues – which will only exacerbate pre-existing depression or anxiety.
But this article is not intended to scare you with facts. Besides which, if you are a ‘problem’ drinker, you most likely already know and worry about these things but still find it hard to cut back or stop. The fact is that you may find alcohol is not the ‘problem’ but the solution to your problem. With this in mind, it is important to develop new ways of coping with the stressors in life that can replace the old habit of turning to the gin or whatever your tipple of choice may be.
VAC is currently offering support groups for same-sex attracted women who are concerned about their drinking. It is a small group of 6-8 lesbian and bisexual women, and the counselors who run the group are also women. In this safe and supportive environment group members will learn about the difficulties of making change and how to overcome the barriers, how to recognize the triggers that lead to excessive drinking, and how to develop a new resilience to tackle life’s pressures as an alternative to alcohol. It is aimed at women who would like to either cut back on their drinking or stop altogether.
If you are interested in attending the group you can contact VAC on (03) 9865 6700 and mention your interest in ‘Drink Limits’ and you can book in for an appointment to discuss your aims as well as those of the group with one of our counsellors