Concerns over a growing problem of alcohol abuse among women.

Doctors believe the culture of binge drinking is on the increase and GPs are now looking at better ways to treat alcoholism.

At the Loretto Convent in Navan County Meath, a group of women attend a weekly meeting where they talk about addiction. The meetings were set up in response to a growing problem of alcohol abuse among women and are for women only. Founders of the group believe that women need to take a different approach to recovery.

It's no different from having diabetes. I wanted to be an air hostess not an alcoholic.

Founding group member Frances Nugent says that women are psychologically and emotionally different to men. Women have different priorities and lifestyles. She points out that the reaction to a woman who has been drinking too much is very different to how a man who has over indulged is treated.

With a woman drunk in a pub what would your reaction be?

The organisation called ANEW is not connected to Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). Frances Nugent acknowledges the role played by the AA but it was founded by men for men and is therefore based on male thinking.

Helen Magee from Dublin started drinking at the age of 13 and had her first child a year later. Over the next decade, she drank heavily and ignored the warning signs. She describes the realisation that she had a problem with alcohol. After admission to a treatment centre and attending AA, Helen Magee enjoyed brief periods of sobriety. Four years ago, she discovered the women only programme and managed to stay sober. She says her life has now been transformed.

The number of women drinking to excess has increased in recent years.

Social worker Roland Anderson has established a programme to advise family doctors on how to recognise and treat the problem. Having worked in the alcohol treatment field for 24 years, he has seen the dramatic increase in the number of women with alcohol problems.

On a national level, we know that about one fifth of women are drinking beyond sensible limits.

Doctors believe that the rise in binge drinking will be evident in hospitals in about 10 years time unless something is done to change the culture of drinking to get drunk.

An RTÉ News report broadcast on 21 January 2002. The reporter is Vivienne Traynor.