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Women reveal the cost of their drinking in documentary

New Zealand women reveal the cost of their drinking in documentary

“I didn’t realise my baby was as drunk as a skunk,” says Jackie, a married Hawke’s Bay mother of three, talking about the effect drinking while she was pregnant has had on her young son.

Jackie considered herself a moderate drinker, having a few wines while sitting around with other mothers, chatting and taking care of their kids.

But Jackie was pregnant and the moment her son was born she knew he was ‘different’. The behavioural issues piled up until, aged eight, he was diagnosed with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) an umbrella term for a range of permanent physical, behavioural and cognitive birth defects caused by a baby’s mother drinking alcohol during pregnancy.

Jackie is one of seven New Zealand women who share their stories about how alcohol has affected their lives in a documentary, ‘True Stories: A Glass Too Full’ screening this Friday, 7 December on Prime at 9.35pm.

Jackie says she has been honest with her son; telling him he’s different because she drank alcohol while she was pregnant. She’s told her story so other women will know that they don’t need to be an alcoholic to have a child with FASD.

Other women sharing their stories in ‘A Glass Too Full’ include 37-year-old Christchurch solo mum Debbie, who believed she was living a pretty normal life and that having a few drinks was her way of relaxing and coping with living in an earthquake zone. Ending up in police cells overnight for drunkenness forced her to accept she was an alcoholic.

“I found it very hard to accept that I was an alcoholic,” she says. “My idea of an alcoholic was a dirty old man with a bottle in a brown paper bag on a park bench.”

Debbie sought help and has now been proudly sober for 17 months.

Sadly, one of the women featured in the documentary has recently died, aged just 44. Kim was diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver in 2010 – the result of a lifetime of heavy drinking.

In her final months Kim wanted to be honest about the consequences of her drinking on her own life and those of her children.

‘A Glass Too Full’ is produced by Attitude Pictures and funded by the Ministry of Health under contract to Alcohol Healthwatch.

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