Women’s event hears warning on binge drinking

The ‘Wine O’Clock’ phenomenon has seen more women drinking alcohol at home – with wine accounting for 26% of all alcohol consumed in Ireland last year. Without realising it, four out of every ten women are drinking at levels which are harmful – these were just some of the startling statistics which were presented at last week’s Women’s Wellbeing Conference.

  Over 250 women from all over the region attended the Women’s Wellbeing Conference which was held in the Abbey Hotel, Roscommon Town last Thursday night.

  The conference was organised by Roscommon Women’s Network in association with the Western Region Drug and Alcohol Task Force. The theme of the conference was general issues affecting women’s lives’ today, with a particular focus on the effect that substance misuse has on health and wellbeing.

  Debbie McDonagh of the Western Regional Drugs Taskforce noted that more women were now drinking at home – “Wine O’Clock is a new phenomenon and it has seen a massive change in home drinking which presents its own problems as there is no closing time and women are drinking more than they realise. There is also more binge drinking and 22% of young women are consuming their weekly drinking limits in one sitting rather than spreading it out over the week,” explained Ms. McDonagh.

  Special guest Sheila Moylett, one of the stars of the new RTÉ hit comedy ‘Can’t Cope, Won’t Cope’, gave a wonderful insight into her life as an actress and she noted that a lot of people including those in the acting and celebrity industry are now living their lives through social media such as Facebook and Instagram which was disguising the ‘brokenness inside.” She explained that she draws a lot of strength from her former acting coach Gerry Grennell who was also coach to Heath Ledger and other celebrities and his motto was – ‘Be yourself – it is enough – you are absolutely beautiful the way you are – you don’t need anything else.’

  Eimer Connaughton, Senior Occupational Therapist in Community Mental Health and Stephanie Murray, Locum Peer Educator with the Regari College, also delivered a presentation on the great work of the REGARI Recovery College which is based at the Lodge adjacent to Roscommon Hospital. The REGARI Recovery College is a new initiative which is helping to change the culture around mental health with a focus on peer support and education with people who have lived experience of mental health issues working together with family members and professionals and volunteers.

  The opening address was delivered by Tara Farrell, Chairperson of Roscommon Women’s Network. Other contributors included poet Jessamine O’Connor of the Millwheel Writers Group and poet Susan Davis, while a short drama by Reidin Dunne of EPIC proved a talking point of the conference as it gave a unique insight of the effects of parental alcohol abuse on children.

  Karen Gavin, HSE, Community Substance Misuse Counsellor noted that the conference was part of an attempt to lift the veil of silence around addiction. “We have a problem as a society with alcohol and addiction. We love the idea of the Irish being great craic and sure we’re great drinkers but there is pain, isolation and silence behind those labels and tonight is about lifting the veil on that silence,” said Ms. Gavin.