There has been a significant increase in the number of women seeking help for alcohol addiction, according to the Rutland Centre.

In 2015, 93% of all women at the centre presented with an alcohol problem. In 2006, this figure was 74%.

“Some people have a predisposition to it. For other people, life is so much more stressful now. People are filling multiple roles, so women, for example, could be at work all day, come home and look after young children or elderly parents,” chief executive Maebh Leahy said. “And in that they get lost themselves, there is no social outlet, alcohol becomes their crutch so it starts out with a glass of wine in the evening and maybe it develops and before you know it, it’s a bottle of wine in the evening, it’s a reward. ‘Oh I deserve this because I’ve worked so hard today’.

“Also it’s a coping mechanism. They feel completely isolated and they’re trying to fill a void that should be filled in other ways and isn’t,” she added.

Overall, alcohol is the biggest issue presenting in the centre, with 84% of clients reporting with this addiction.

Furthermore, the age of people seeking help has dropped considerably.

“We’ve seen a significant increase in the 18-24 age group coming forward for treatment. Three or four years ago we had nobody in that age group in for treatment and last year it was 11% of everyone that came in,” Ms Leahy told the Irish Examiner. The centre also saw rises in the number of people presenting with gambling addiction or sex addiction, and men reporting issues with food.

These figures are from the forthcoming Outcomes Report, being published at the end of September. The report looks at key trends from Ireland’s longest-established treatment centre over the last 10 years.

The sample figures were released as part of the centre’s Recovery Month, when a series of public meetings will be held.

Clinical operations manager Dr Erika Ruigrok said the de-stigmatisation of addiction is crucial to recovery.

“Addiction is a disease of the brain. The structure of the brain is fundamentally changed in the course of addiction. It’s not a moral judgement, it’s not a value issue. There is nobody who chooses to be an addict,” she said. “It’s an incredibly painful and isolating existence.

“While people may, in the very early stages of addiction, have got a buzz or enjoyed their use, by the time the addiction has bedded in, people are using just to feel normal. It’s done to ease those feelings of self-loathing and pure shame and disgust. It’s not something that’s fun,” added Dr Ruigrok.

Another important message is that a full recovery is possible: “We know recovery is a possibility. We know that it is an opportunity to live a more fulfilling life than could possibly be experienced in addiction. Sobriety offers what alcohol promised. That’s an absolute truth.

“We’ve had people come in to us who’ve felt hopeless to the point of suicide and are now telling us that their life is transformed,” she said.

  • For the full list of events, including lectures and workshops, and the family day on Saturday September 10, visit www.rutlandcentre.ie.

Rutland report

- 84% of all clients attending the Rutland Centre present with alcohol addiction.

- 93% of all women attending the centre present with alcohol problems. This is a 19% rise compared with 2006, when 74% of female clients presented with alcohol addiction.

- There has been an 11% rise in the number of young people seeking treatment between 2010 and 2015. People between 18 and 24, attending the centre for treatment has increased from 0% to 11% in this time frame.

- In 2015, 40% of all clients had an addiction to drugs both licit and illicit.

- The average age of the Rutland Centre’s clientele is 41.

- The age group most frequently seeking treatment over the last 10 years at the centre, is the 30-49-year-old age group.

- Clients presenting with sex addiction has increased by 6% between 2009 and 2015.

- In 2009, sex and love addiction accounted for less than 0.5% of the Rutland Centre’s clients.

- 13% of clients presented with a gambling addiction in 2015, this figure was at 7% in 2007.

- Males presenting with food-related issues counted for 8.2% of the centre’s clientele in 2015.

- 74.% of the Rutland Centre’s clients, who entered treatment in the 12-month period from July 2015 to July 2016 and who entered the aftercare programme, are in abstinent recovery.

- In the same 12-month period, 9.2% of clients are experiencing a lapse but are engaged in the centre’s programme.

READ MORE: New film by Alcoholics Anonymous highlights dangers of addiction and how to get help

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