The front page of the UK's Daily Mail newspaper today reads "WARNING OVER MIDDLE-CLASS WOMEN DRINKERS." (If you want to read the full article click here)
Who knew? Well, all of us on this site, actually!
Apparently an OECD study has revealed that, in a study of 34 Western countries, the UK has the highest number of female graduates drinking 'hazardously' (20%, compared with only 10% of less educated women).
There is a direct link between your likelihood of being a problem drinker and the number of years you spent in education. Well that was three years at university well spent, wasn't it?
Mark Pearson of the OECD says "women are adopting men's drinking habits and they are not healthy...As women have moved into the labour market they have adapted to the male culture. Jobs where you can earn more are more likely to be jobs that have a lot of networking. It's the dark side of equality."
The study states that two thirds of alcohol in the UK is drunk by just 20% of adults. That proportion may have dropped since I quit 73 days ago. I swear my local off licence has seen a huge drop in profits.
The report also shows that the highest proportion of hazardous drinkers are in the 45-64 age group. Yep, that's me again (although only just, I hasten to add).
The OECD suggest that women with higher education tend to have more stressful jobs, more opportunities for socialisation and delayed pregnancies, all of which can lead to heavy drinking.
Apparently 'much of it is done at home, away from public view,' aided by supermarket online delivery services. Ocado: the neighbourhood drug dealer of the middle classes!
None of this is much surprise to me, or - I expect - to any of you. If you delve briefly into the sober blogosphere you'll see that the majority of authors, and readers, are middle aged women.
Many of us drank - heavily but 'normally' for decades thinking that it wasn't really a problem. Back then I would have looked at today's headline with interest, but without much concern. But then, when we hit our forties something changed.
For me, looking back, the big shift at about the age of forty was the amount of 'headspace' taken up by my drinking. Until then I'd drunk a lot, but I only thought about drinking while I was actually doing it.
But then an increasingly constant, nagging voice appeared (we call her the 'wine witch'). She would say things like "better check to see if there's a spare bottle in the cupboard, just in case.....Have a couple of drinks before you go out so you don't need to drink too much when you get there.......Better not go to the nearest shop to buy wine, you went there yesterday.....Can I ask the air stewardess for an extra glass or will she think I'm a lush?......If the husband pours another glass there won't be enough left for me...."
Forget all the quizzes about how to know if you have a drink problem - if you immediately understand what we mean by the wine witch, you do.
We are the first generation of women whose mothers fought for equality. The ones who went to University and into top jobs and thought it our duty to keep up with the boys, and we're now hitting our forties.
How many of us are out there quietly drinking a bottle at home every night and fighting off the wine witch? Given that we all lie when asked how much we drink, I suspect that the OECD survey massively underestimates the issue.
But, hell, it's good to come top of something!
Onwards and upwards.
For more on this topic read: Why so many well educated, middle aged women drink too much, and Women and alcohol: a deadly relationship