Vancouver women recount different paths to sobriety

Karen has been sober for about two years, and credits her new life to a 12-step program. Photograph By DAN TOULGOET

John Kurucz / Vancouver Courier

Ang’s crutch was schmoozing.

As someone who works in the entertainment and hospitality industries, she’s done a lot of it.

Those situations almost always included a glass of wine. The glass soon became a bottle, and over time the visual evidence of where her life was going quite literally started to pile up.

“I’m a smart person,” Ang told the Courier. “As I would see the bottles pile up over the course of the week, I said to myself, ‘This is probably a little over the top.’ Slowly over time it became somewhat more of a crutch, where I found I was drinking every night.”

Karen, on the other hand, traces her relationship with alcohol back 25 years. She had just started high school and stopped playing organized sports.

The bottle replaced the ball, the team and the camaraderie.

“That’s when everything shifted for me,” she said.

Karen and Ang both spoke to the Courier on the condition of anonymity. April is Alcohol Awareness Month and both women are at different places in their paths to sobriety.

They’re linked, however, by disturbing stats that suggest alcoholism is on the rise for women in particular. Numbers published in March by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) suggest women with drinking problems were less likely than men to receive advice (11.7 per cent compared to 19.3 per cent).

The Canadian Cancer Society notes that one drink per day increases a woman’s risk of breast cancer by up to 13 per cent. Stats Canada suggests binge drinking among women is on the rise, almost on a yearly basis.

Although they’ve taken different paths to do so, Ang and Karen are resolute in their efforts to not be a statistic.

“There’s this weird saddle that is put on women,” said Karen, 38. “You’re going to be a mother, you’re going to be taking care of babies, but you’re not going to be the breadwinner. Instead, you’re faced with pressure, isolation and you’re going to have this mom culture thing around you. There are a lot of women drinking by themselves at home.”

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