The Intimate Relationship Between Women and Alcohol

More than twenty three thousand women die from heavy drinking in the United States each year. Incidents of binge drinking and so-called drunkorexia are on the rise, contributing to an exponential increase in the number of health conditions and cancer among women.

 

Relaxed woman with sunglasses

Award-winning journalist Ann Dowsett Johnston’s DRINK: The Intimate Relationship Between Women and Alcohol takes aim at an alarming epidemic: the worrisome rise in binge drinking and alcohol abuse among girls and women. Bringing shocking statistical evidence to light, Dowsett Johnson reveals how dangerous levels of female drinking is on the upswing while also candidly discussing her own struggles with addiction. Below she discusses the spiritual development that took places alongside her struggle to remain sober. (HarperCollins Publishers, paperback on sale June 24th).

What is my faith? Why does spirituality work? Try describing air or water. This is a difficult one. The best I can do to is this: my faith sustains me. It feels like a poultice on my heart. I take the largest comfort in praying to a God of my understanding, a creative force of goodness with a better imagination than mine. This has been proven, over and over. I also take solace in Marion Woodman’s words when she writes: “We live in a predominately Christian culture which has lost its living connection to the symbolism of wafer and wine. Lacking spiritual sustenance there is a genuine hunger and thirst. The archetypal structure behind the wafer and wine is slowly giving way to a new configuration, but we are in chaos during the transition. That chaos breeds loneliness, fear and alienation.”

Amen. And to battle that loneliness, fear, and alienation, so many of us are cobbling together our own microsystems of something that sustains us. If it’s true that we are all in transition—and I believe we are—my own faith is still under construction. In my search for a deeper understanding, I turn to a variety of writers for guidance: the Jungians Woodman and Robert Johnson and Marie-Louise von Franz; the Buddhists Pema Chödrön, Jack Kornfield, and Thich Nhat Hanh, among many others: Annie Dillard, Sharon Olds, the poets. It’s a wide-ranging search. As I said, it’s a work in progress.

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Ann Dowsett Johnston
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