Modern mums were supposed to have it all, but the reality is far from the dream. Today the Sunday Herald Sun launches a three-part series highlighting what life is really like for too many hard-working mothers. This week we look at the increasing role of alcohol in their lives 

STRESSED middle-aged women now rank as one of the most at-risk groups of drinkers amid warnings of a looming health crisis. 

Alcohol-related hospital admissions for women increased 55 per cent state-wide in the decade to the end of 2015, from 8095 to 12,534. 

A Sunday Herald Sun investigation has highlighted the private pressures women face as they juggle motherhood with working, ageing parents and domestic duties. 

It has sparked calls for more support and better understanding of a “sandwich generation” of women as it’s revealed: WOMEN’S admissions to The Alfred hospital for alcohol treatment are approaching men’s for the first time; IN hotspot Bayside, the rate of women admitted to hospital for alcohol-related harms in 2014-15 exceeded that for men; ALCOHOL-RELATED hospitalisations for women rose sharply in Cardinia (up 395 per cent), Melton (up 233 per cent), South Gippsland (up 185 per cent), Frankston (up 149 per cent), Wyndham (up 148 per cent), Casey (up 139 per cent), Yarra Ranges (up 125 per cent), Bayside (125 per cent) and Geelong (up 109 per cent) in the decade to 2014-15 ; ONE sobriety support group reported around 70 per cent of those seeking help were women; and ABOUT 20 per cent of Victorian women report high levels of psychological distress. 

Mounting stress and life’s pressures are being blamed for more women turning to alcohol. 

AMA president Dr Michael Gannon said midlife women were now drinking “more than Gen Ys, Millennials and more than their parents (did)”. “The blokey machismo of 15 beers on a Friday night has been overcome and replaced by a normalisation of overconsumption of white wine by females,” he said.  

Melbourne GP Grant Blashki said his clinic saw women battling to fulfil multiple roles. “A lot of women who come to the clinic and seem overwhelmed with juggling multiple roles in career and home, and often multi-generational responsibilities to kids, parents and their partner,’’ Dr Blashki said. 

“People say, ‘I really can’t sleep, so I have a few drinks. I really can’t relax, but I find if I have a few drinks it turns my mind off.” 

VicHealth’s Maya Rivis said a link had been found between alcohol consumption and women’s psychological distress. 

“About 20 per cent of Victorian women report having high levels of psychological distress, many who suffer from depression or anxiety may drink to address those symptoms,” she said. “Women still do the bulk of the domestic work, the stress that comes with trying to juggle full-time work with domestic chores, and children — who are very active today so mums are juggling that with work and chores — means there’s very little time to recover. The more you drink and the more often you’re exceeding half a bottle, you’re putting yourself at risk.”  

The Alfred hospital drug and alcohol physician Dr Benny Monheit saw more middle-aged women needing support for alcohol use.  For complete article  May 27 issue of The Herald Sun Digital Edition.   WENDY TUOHY  

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