UK & World News

  • 2 March 2013, 12:26

Middle-Aged Drinking Takes Toll on 'Ladettes'

The "ladette" culture of the 1980s and 90s is a key factor in the growing number of middle-aged women turning to drink, according to the founder of a support website.

Lucy Rocca says women between 30 and 50 are turning to alcohol as a natural choice, having grown up in an era when drinking to excess was encouraged. 

Ms Rocca set up the Soberistas website after developing - and overcoming - a dependency on alcohol. 

Within two months, more than 1,500 women had joined the forum to discuss problem drinking. The overwhelming majority are middle-aged and many are professional, career women.

Ms Rocca told Sky News: "I think the reason that women of that age are finding themselves in that position where they are drinking too much is that a lot of them grew up in a ladette culture and went on to get married and have children. 

"They had grown up in a culture where it was acceptable and encouraged, really, to drink excessively and, once they found themselves dealing with motherhood and stresses of work, they swapped the pints for the wine and they drank at home to try to deal with that stress."

Figures for hospital admissions reflect a recent increase in problem-drinking among women between 30 and 50. 

According to the Department of Health, in England in 2010 there were 110,128 alcohol-related hospital admissions for women in their mid-30s to mid-50s. This was nearly double the number of admissions of women aged 15-34.

In Scotland, the number of alcohol-related deaths among women aged 30-44 has doubled in the past 20 years. 

In January, the Scottish Government launched a new photo app called Drinking Mirror as part of an initiative it dubbed Drop A Glass Size.

Its aim is to encourage women to curb excessive drinking by showing them a photo of how they will look in 10 years' time, depending how much they drink.

Sarah Turner, 57, who runs a centre for women with drink problems, was a millionaire property developer until she developed an addiction to wine and vodka.

Her business collapsed and her home was repossessed. Having now recovered, she helps middle-class, middle-aged women deal with drink problems. 

She believes their needs are too often ignored, while resources are channelled towards areas like teenage binge-drinking.

She told Sky News: "There is enough being done for the disassociated and the disadvantaged.

"The middle-class, middle-aged woman is so shameful, guilty and fearful of coming forward to talk about this problem and they become hidden, secret drinkers.

"This is happening in the home on an epic scale now."