Amanda Jess (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Becki Haltom was nine years old when she had her first drink of beer. She remembers her teenage babysitter offering it to her and enjoying the effects of it.
“There were other things happening that weren’t so great, and the alcohol kind of made it a little more bearable to go through. I learned at a pretty young age that alcohol was good at numbing things,” Haltom, who grew up in New Glasgow, NS, says.
Throughout her life, she went through periods when she didn’t drink and, for a while, restricted it to weekends. It eventually crept up to the weekdays and became an everyday occurrence that consumed her life, getting out of hand after moving to Bridgewater, N.S., with her husband and two kids.
She would tell herself she wasn’t going to drink anymore, but then need to have something to stop the shaking in the mornings.
“I didn’t think there was any help for me. I was ashamed. I’d become everything I said I’d never become. I was putting my children through what I went through as a child of an alcoholic.”
Increased alcohol use in women
While men often report heavy drinking more than women do, alcohol use among women has increased since 2013.
Everybody can see it happening, and then you are in a position where you can’t manage your life. And then the stigma that’s attached to that just further compounds whatever trauma they’re trying to cope with,” says Mullin.
The 2019 Canadian Drug Summary from the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction (CCSA) shows a change of 71.2 per cent in 2013 to 76.9 per cent in 2017 in reported past-year alcohol use.
Rachel Mason Tree, a clinical therapist with Nova Scotia Mental Health and Addictions, points to a history of addiction in someone’s family as one risk factor in developing an addiction themselves.
“There is a genetic component; however, if you grow up in a home where there is a lot of alcohol present or addiction in general, then not only do you have the genetic [component], but you also have the environment.”
Lisa Mullin, the executive director of the Marguerite Centre – a women’s addiction centre near Halifax – points to trauma as a reason a woman may start to self-medicate.
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