Exploring the link between alcohol, women and autism

A discussion of how gender, disability and drinking interact

Chelsey Flood
3 min readDec 15, 2021


Interview available at YouTube

Those of you curious or invested in discussions of autism and alcohol, may be interested to watch this. Claire Davey, a PhD Candidate researching sobriety, alcohol and gender at Canterbury University, interviewed me for Club Soda, and we had a fascinating conversation about drinking, sobriety, mental health and autism.

We discussed coming of age in the 90s and how it felt to be presented with what Claire described as ‘your gender strait jacket’ around puberty, and how that identity-focused experience, without adequate support, can fuel a young woman’s drinking.

I was too tired to create and deliver a PowerPoint presentation (autistic fatigue is real) and so Claire ran this as a Q&A, which I was incredibly grateful for. Informality takes less of a toll on the nervous system, and it felt good to admit my needs/difficulties, and have them accommodated. It’s something I’ve hidden and been ashamed of for so long. I’m sick and tired of pretending to be more capable than I am — it has made me ill too many times — so I really appreciated Claire’s generosity here.

I hope more people are feeling empowered to acknowledge their needs, and finding, at least sometimes, similar kindnesses and accommodations. The world of work needs to understand that we aren’t all equally capable, but that we can all contribute. I am still working on extending these kindnesses and accomodations to myself. (As I write this, there is a part calling me lazy, and part denouncing autism as a hoax, and a part telling me not to publish this post.)

All of this is why I talk about my experiences, though it sometimes leaves me feeling vulnerable in an uncomfortable way.

My tendency to ruminate (which I discovered is often an identifying feature of autism) comes out in full force after I talk openly about my struggles (writing seems different) and I was unable to watch this video at first, due to dreadful shame attacks insisting it was unboundaried dirge.

But a few weeks after Claire and I talked, after some encouragement from my mum, I watched it back, and here I am sharing it. She says it’s very good, and that I can reach a…