TWO recovering alcoholics are calling for urgent help to stop rising number of women killed by alcohol.
Lynn Cuthbertson, 48, shared how she hit the bottle after her sister died of alcohol at the age of 38, while fellow campaigner Claire Aitken, 40, has admitted that at her lowest point she put drinking ahead of her children.
The couple bravely told how they got their lives back after The Scottish Sun reported last week that the number of women dying of addiction here rose from 409 to 440 last year – a 14-year high.
The two are calling for better support for families, more support for overworked professionals and new actions in schools to raise awareness of the dangers of alcohol.
Lynn, from Lanarkshire, revealed she frequently drank two bottles of wine a night four times a week – more than four times the safe limit of no more than 14 units a week.
She started drinking when she was 14.
But the lifelong problem worsened when her sister Diane died of alcoholism in 2006.
Lynn recalled, “I just couldn’t stop — I was physically and mentally compelled to take it.”
In 2012, she found that anxiety issues were pushing her to bottle more frequently and she felt trapped in a vicious circle.
She said: “It was normal to have a glass of wine.
“But then I had a few drinks, got nervous and anxious the next morning and had to force myself to stop drinking alcohol in the morning.
“I called Alcoholics Anonymous – but they said I was fine because I don’t drink every day.
“I just kept going and trying to make it until I got stuck in a vicious cycle. I wasn’t at the stage where I needed rehab yet.
“I had seen how Diane had been, and I knew that if I got this bad, I would die.”
But in 2016, she began attending AA meetings and has now been sober for seven years.
Lynn, who now works with Abbeycare’s addiction healing clinics and helps other families with similar problems, is calling for more support for addiction workers.
And she says children should be educated about the dangers of casual drinking.
She added: “Communities should have day programs with people with life experiences who can help. It shouldn’t be that hard to get referrals.”
Meanwhile, mother-of-three Claire, from Coatbridge, Lanarkshire, has told how she would bottle drink for days and miss family events as a result. And she admitted to putting the bottle down in front of her kids — and hiding her empties from loved ones.
Claire said: “I remember all the things I promised my kids that I was never allowed to do because I would end up drinking, all the family events I couldn’t go to because I had been drinking.
“Basically, I introduce my kids to alcohol. I felt really, really broken.
“I just couldn’t get out of this hamster wheel.”
The turning point came three years ago when she checked into an Abbeycare-run rehabilitation center in Erskine, Renfrewshire for a 28-day recovery programme.
She recalled, “I knew I needed some kind of intervention or treatment center.
“I needed a break from everyday life to focus on myself and better myself for my family.
“As a mother, life is hectic.
“Being in a residential program allows you to focus on yourself and your issues to go back to and be there for your kids.”
Claire stressed the need for more women-focused support, saying too many programs are tailored to men.
She said: “Women are heavily stigmatized, especially mothers who are addicted to alcohol.
“Many services are geared towards men and women, especially mothers, are unaware that support is available.
“The focus needs to be more on women. They need to know that help is there and that their children and families are not affected.”
“You’re completely insane when you’re addicted to alcohol.
“I was afraid it would affect my kids, so I just tried to fight it on my own.”
According to the National Records of Scotland, alcohol-related deaths are the most common among women aged 30 to 60.
Figures released last week underline that Scotland has the highest alcohol-related death rate in the UK.
We now have 22.9 tragedies per 100,000 population, while previous statistics put England at 13.9, Wales at 15.0 and 19.3 in Northern Ireland.
In the least prosperous areas of Scotland, the death rate was a staggering 41.7 per 100,000 people, compared with 9.6 in the most prosperous areas.
In total, there were 1,276 alcohol-related deaths last year.
Last night Laura Mahon, Deputy Chief Executive of Alcohol Focus Scotland said: “It is worrying to see the recent increase in alcohol-related deaths among women.”
“We see deaths particularly in women over 45.
“For someone to die from alcohol, they usually have to have drunk unhealthy amounts over a long period of time.
“It’s a common misconception that only people addicted to alcohol die as a result of their drinking. In reality, drinking above the low-risk limit of 14 units per week can lead to problems such as liver disease, cancer, heart disease and stroke.
“In Scotland, 16 per cent of women drink above weekly limits and this is even higher among women aged 45 to 64, where we are seeing the greatest harm.
- Anyone concerned about their own or others’ alcohol consumption can call the Drinkline on 0800 731 4314
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