Parenting is hard. Caring for a child and simultaneously trying to raise them a decent human being is no easy task that frequently results in countless sleepless hours and racked nerves. While the joys and benefits outweigh the hardships, constant stress is a real problem for many women.
Mothers engaging in destructive activities like drinking instead of applying healthier coping mechanisms of self-care are sadly not a product of the modern world. Alcohol provides more instant relief than working through your emotions and feelings, making it a tempting option for relaxation when you get overwhelmed with the troubles of parenting. The most disturbing fact is, however, that society seems to encourage it. Despite alcohol’s well-known health risks, there is a whole “wine mom” culture constantly growing in the US.
This is how alcohol abuse affects women
For an alarming number of women, alcohol abuse goes unaddressed and often even unacknowledged. In fact, as many as 5.3 million women in the United States have alcohol dependence. It’s a condition, characterized by loss of control over how much alcohol you consume, increased tolerance for it and development of withdrawal symptoms when you stop drinking. Alcohol use disorder is classified as a medical condition and requires professional treatment. However, despite the variety of centers offering alcohol and drug rehab for women (discover more), the majority, especially mothers, don’t seek treatment due to two major contradictive factors: normalization of female drinking by society and shame, imposed by it.
Research shows that women begin experiencing serious behavioral changes and develop health issues associated with alcohol abuse more quickly than men do. There are sex-specific reasons for that. Even official standards for classification of binge and heavy drinking vary for men and women. This is necessary because women usually have lower weight and height than men, as well as different hormones and hormone levels, more fat weight and less water weight. It makes alcohol consumption riskier for women.
It is considered that a woman engages in heavy drinking if she consumes more than one drink per day or more than seven drinks per week, while for men those thresholds are two drinks per day or more than 14 drinks per week. Binge drinking is indicated by more than four drinks in two hours for women and five or more for men.
Excessive drinking increases the risk of developing certain serious diseases and conditions, including stomach, liver and breast cancers, brain damage, memory problems, various mood disorders and mental illnesses like depression and anxiety, cardiovascular damage, stroke, heart attack, and infertility. Moreover, if a woman is pregnant is the period of heavy drinking, it can increase the risk of miscarriage and inflict irreversible damage on the child. This is why it’s especially important to seek help at rehab for pregnant women as early as possible.
What is the “Wine Mom” culture?
A phenomenon that started out as social media memes is now virtually everywhere. You can see T-shirts, posters, and mugs saying “mommy needs wine”, and the situation keeps escalating. In fact, this trend transforms a dangerous, hugely problematic habit that binge drinking is into a socially acceptable rightful reward for the hardships of caring for a child. So where does this culture come from?
Some believe it originates from the trend of women using Valium back in the 1960s to cope with anxiety. Back then, doctors were prescribing Valium to manage their feelings so often that it started the epidemic of women abusing the “Mother’s Little Helper”, as it used to be called. In today’s reality, Valium is not an acceptable remedy for the problem that didn’t change along with society, yet alcohol is viewed not only as appropriate for adults but nearly mandatory. Despite being highly addictive, alcohol in the contemporary world isn’t generally treated with caution, which makes it easy to justify drinking as a kind of self-medication.
Why do so many women fall for the trend?
Wine seems harmless. We don’t put it in the same category as vodka or whiskey because, unlike “hard liquors”, wine is considered to be healthy and classy. It doesn’t ring any bells, it can be found in every other fridge and a lot of people don’t believe it can be abused. Moreover, alcohol is woven into our social patterns so tightly, it is, ridiculously enough, the only drug we need to explain not taking.
In our culture, wine is depicted as a safe way to cope with the troubles of motherhood and deal with daily stress. Many women don’t even realize they have a problem with drinking and never reach local female rehab centers.
What are the consequences of encouraging mothers to drink?
Alcohol doesn’t treat anxiety and depression, in fact, it tends to worsen them. In addition, women who abuse alcohol reported to experience a lot of shame and guilt that came from the necessity to hide their drinking from families and friends. Gradually increasing stress and fear of exposure can lead a woman to drink more every day and get deeper into the problem instead of choosing a path of recovery.
There are also a lot of problems concerning kids. Drinking during pregnancy can inflict irreversible harm on the child, who will later need a lifetime of specific care. Also, such a child is four times more likely than kids born to healthy parents to develop alcohol abuse problems. Additionally, drinking during pregnancy creates a higher risk of sudden infant death syndrome, also known as SIDS, and increases the chances of premature delivery or miscarriage.
Another issue the Wine Mom culture creates is the message that kids receive. By showing your children that you need alcohol to cope with them, you create a mindset that may eventually lead to self-blame in your kids. It’s important to recognize that your actions might be putting your children in danger of developing a mental illness later in life and seek help.
What is the solution for women who are already addicted?
Addressing women only treatment centers is probably the best solution since they provide a lot of options including individual therapy, support groups and medical treatment with regard for gender-specific issues that women may encounter. For instance, the staff at rehab for women with children is specifically trained to deal with the issues that arise from a woman’s role as a mother. Treatment allows women to admit and express their struggles, learn self-care and healthy coping mechanisms, get parenting training if necessary and begin living a happier sober life.
About the Author
Christina Matthews, the journalist who studies the latest news in the health industry. Now she studies the effects of smoking and vaping on health and reasons of such its popularity