Alcohol consumption is on the rise, and women are leading the way. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, women are consuming and abusing alcohol more than ever before. More mothers are turning to alcohol to deal with the complex and mundane parts of motherhood. For some mothers, the nightly glass or two of wine while making dinner leads to several more glasses after bedtime. Many mothers are drinking too much without knowing it. These drinks feel like an earned reward after a long day of mothering, but the reward is not what it seems.
Few mothers would consider themselves alcoholics. Instead, they identify as busy women taking care of their families, making appointments, shopping for holidays, driving to extracurricular activities, holding jobs, and making healthy meals every day. These busy mothers believe they have earned their drinks and unwind by consuming excessive amounts of alcohol as a reward for being so good at having and managing it all, unaware they are engaging in excessive drinking.
So, what is excessive drinking? Excessive drinking for women is more than three drinks per day or more than seven drinks per week. Binge drinking is consuming four or more drinks in a span of sixty minutes.
Stressors of Motherhood
Society and social media tell mothers they need to and can do everything. Mothers multitask and manage multiple roles within the family unit. They are cooks, drivers, cleaners, wives, friends, lovers, and professionals. Social media and societal pressure tell mothers they must do it all or risk being labeled as bad mothers. The constant fear of being labeled a bad mother often pushes women to reach for the bottle to cope with stressful lives.
The mommy wine culture has inundated mothers with pithy slogans like “mommy needs her wine” and “wine is cheaper than therapy.” These slogans normalize excessive drinking as a part of a typical day for busy mothers, leading to a rise in mommy drinking culture. This idea of the “fun mom” with a baby on her hip and wine on her lips does a disservice to mothers, their children, and their families.
Negative Effects of Alcohol on Health
Alcohol abuse affects relationships within the family and has tremendous adverse effects on a woman’s body. Women are at a higher risk of developing serious health issues due to excessive drinking. According to the Center for Disease Control, excessive and chronic alcohol abuse is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States. Alcohol use disorder can lead to higher rates of:
- Heart disease
- Several forms of cancer
- Liver damage and cirrhosis
- Cognitive decline
When you stop drinking your overall health improves. On the outside, you may notice your skin looking healthier and your eyes brighter. And on the inside anxiety decreases, liver function improves, blood pressure normalizes, and energy levels soar.
How a Mother's Drinking Affects the Family
Excessive alcohol abuse affects children in the short and long term. Many long-term effects on their character and behavior will emerge later in their development. Children of alcoholic parents are at higher risk of:
- Being neglected and abused
- Engaging in risky behavior
- Struggling to connect emotionally with others
- Underperforming academically
- Feeling low self-esteem and physical illness
Witnessing parental alcohol abuse can take years of therapy to overcome. Family support groups like Al-Anon can help family members navigate their feelings and their relationships with the alcoholic in their lives.
Healthy Ways To Cope With Motherhood and Life
Finding positive coping methods, like self-care, is key to managing stress and supporting mental health. Self-care looks different for each person. Examples of self-care are taking a bath, going for a walk, taking a class, reading, meditating, napping, getting a mani-pedi, or listening to music. Mothers need to find something that brings them comfort and gives them a break. Taking care of yourself is essential. If mothers are well rested and feel emotionally energized, they can tackle daily tasks without alcohol. Finding the time to prioritize self-care is challenging. You need a support system, and for many mothers, that support isn’t available, so they choose to drink.
Many mothers strive for perfection. They want to be the greatest mother all of the time. They think they must make organic meals, have a spotless home, play with their children all day, and be the best wife and lover. But in reality, despite what social media tells you, being the perfect mother is impossible. This paradox is why many mothers pick up the bottle in the first place. Society needs to take the pressure off of mothers, and more importantly, mothers need to take the pressure off of themselves. It’s ok if the kids eat a frozen meal or the house hasn’t been vacuumed. Managing expectations eases stress and makes it easier to forgo the bottle.
How Being Sober Helps You and Your family
There are many benefits of being a sober mother. Changing your mindset about alcohol and sobriety can be challenging in the early days. It’s good to focus on the positives you will gain. Being a sober mother will change your relationship with your family and, most importantly, your relationship with yourself. Getting sober lets you:
- Be present for your children and enjoy them
- Make memories with your children
- Teach them essential life skills
- Connect with your children and build a strong relationship
Getting and Staying Sober
Examining your relationship with alcohol and exploring sobriety can be scary, but help is available. At Core Recovery, the focus is on getting and staying sober. Through a specialized plan and support groups, and even medication if wanted or needed, recovery is attainable. Motherhood will always be challenging but doing it without the numbing effects of alcohol lets you be your best self. Every child deserves to grow and flourish in a safe, healthy environment with a loving mother. Core Recovery can help you give that to your loved ones.