The topic of alcoholism and the damage it causes to families are most frequently looked at from the standpoint of the alcoholic male. Less in focus is the phenomenon of the alcoholic woman, even though the recorded cases are steadily growing in numbers.
The social stigma attached to drunkenness in women is much more severe than for men. The stigma encourages everybody to deny that something is wrong. Even husbands cover up the reality of their wives’ drinking, and the children, confused and anxious, learn not to believe their own perceptions. For the woman herself the social attitude is a strong incentive to hide reality from all, including herself.
The profile of the woman who abuses alcohol is surprisingly similar to that of the woman who marries an alcoholic. Both are likely to come from families disrupted by alcoholism or death and desertion. Both types have problems with poor self-esteem. While men in such circumstances tend to be angry and look for somebody on whom to take out their anger (a drinking wife conveniently serves that purpose), women typically turn their anger on themselves and blame themselves mercilessly for their own abuse. The self-disgust and attending hopelessness can easily serve as justification for alcohol abuse, regardless of the ensuing further self-blame.
Studies have found that when actively drinking, an alcoholic affects at least four people around him or her.
According to members of Alanon (a 12-step support group for relatives and friends of alcoholics), spouses and children of alcoholics often suffer from depression, mood swings, anger, guilt, and resentment of their situation and a feeling of isolation.
Ariel S., a long-time member of Alanon, said, “My husband was addicted to alcohol and I was addicted to him.” She said that after she went to her first Alanon meeting, she learned what is called the “3 Cs.”
I didn’t cause alcoholism,
I can’t control it and
I can’t cure it,'” she said.
Learning that alcoholism was a disease helped her understand her husband’s situation, relieved her guilt and helped her improve her life.
“Only people who have lived with alcoholism understand how terrible and hopeless you feel,” she said. “But going to meetings gave me a new sense of hope.”
Often, when her husband returned from work, she would slam doors, swear and shout. Once, when he was asleep, she even poured a bucketful of water on him and later regretted drenching the mattress she shared with him. There were even times she secretly wished for a call informing her that her husband had fallen into a gutter somewhere. That was her idea of justice. Michelle did not hate her husband. She hated him when he was drunk. As the wife of an alcoholic, she had slowly imbibed the drunkard’s lack of self-control herself.
A Boiling Point report says chronic and intense anger has been linked with heart disease, cancer, stroke, colds and flu as well as depression, self-harm and substance misuse.
Higher levels of anger are related to lower levels of social support and higher stress levels. Anger is more likely to have a negative effect on relationships than any other emotion.
Problem anger goes largely untackled unless someone commits an aggressive criminal act, when a court may refer them to anger management training. The charity says we are intervening too late and could save many lives from being damaged if we tackled it earlier.
This booklet outlines how anger works and explains the benefits of keeping your anger level under control or expressing it in a constructive way. It also describes some of the tactics you can use to manage your anger more effectively and minimise the personal costs of times when anger gets the better of you.
People in recovery from alcoholism, addiction, gambling and codependency often need to deal with their own anger and others anger. This site may help.
Are you as cool as a cucumber or do you erupt like a volcano? How do you react when something gets your goat?
Take the UK Mental Health Foundation’s quiz and compare your anger temperature with the national average and find out which regions in the UK are the angriest!
The quiz can be found at Your Boiling Point – a specific website created by the Mental Health Foundation as part of a year long campaign to raise awareness about anger that kicks off during Mental Health Action Week (23rd – 29th March).
The website also enables visitors to HAVE A RANT! If you’re feeling close to boiling point and need to let off steam, why not get whatever is bothering you off your chest without scaring your friends witless. If your rant is funny enough it might join the Top 5!