Stop talking about ‘wine o’clock

20 January 2020 Posted by

Holly Whitaker on how women can stop drinking – and get happy

When Holly Whitaker looks back on the many nights that would disappear in a boozy haze, it wasn’t the anxiety and regret that made her realise she needed to get help for her drinking, but sheer exhaustion. “When I binged, I would close my eyes while I did it,” she says. “I was trying to not see how horrific it was. I would go through this process of scrubbing it away, then presenting myself to the world and pretending that nothing was wrong. Then I had this moment when I couldn’t not see it.”

Whitaker, now 40, details her own path to recovery in Quit Like a Woman, which is part examination of how patriarchy drives women to drink and part practical guide on how to tackle addiction. She credits Allen Carr’s manual The Easy Way to Control Alcohol with helping her break free aged 33, as well as therapy and meditation. Breathing exercises, using mantras, not drinking caffeine after noon, and getting at least seven hours of sleep are just some of the tips she recommends.

Rather than demanding that addicts go cold turkey and chastising them for slipping up, Tempest regards any lapses as part of the process. AA has been described as expecting total abstinence from its members, which Whitaker claims “creates too high a bar” and people end up feeling “helpless” and “defeated” if they fail to achieve this. A “stop doing it” approach, Whitaker believes, is “masculine-centric” and implies that if you do slip up “you are kind of stupid”. “In our model, it is about being trusted to make your own mistakes and to learn from them.” One thing is clear: women are drinking more than ever. British women were found to drink an average of three drinks (defined as 10g of alcohol) a day in a 2018 survey and were ranked eighth in the world for high levels of drinking.

Read the full story here.

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Research & Information Officer, Amethyst, Community Safety Team

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