You’ve likely seen shirts that say, “I’m not a regular mom — I’m a wine mom,” the stemless wine glasses with the words “mommy juice” printed in fancy font, the memes that make light of mom groups day-drinking on playdates. These days, “wine mom” culture — a term that refers to moms who drink to escape the stresses of parenthood — is pervasive. Moms are inundated with the message that drinking wine comes with being a mother. And while it may seem harmless and a funny, wine mom culture has become a major public health concern.
Drinking To Escape Parenting Stress
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 1 in 6 adults binge drink once a week. For women, binge drinking is defined as drinking four or more alcoholic beverages on the same occasion, at least one day in the past month. One 4-ounce glass of wine is considered to be one drink.
Wine mom culture touts drinking alcohol to cope with the demands of everyday life. Kids stressing you out? Drink. On a playdate with fellow moms? Drink. Exhausted after a long day? Another excuse to have a drink.
This mindset can turn into a drinking problem quickly. A 2017 study found that problem drinking increased by more than 80 percent among American women between 2002 to 2013.
Wine mom culture may seem harmless, but it can lead to dependence on a nightly glass or two. Consistent drinking can lead to less diligence when supervising play and can cause long-term health damage.
Long-Term Effects on Women
Women tend to metabolize alcohol more slowly than men, which can lead to getting drunk faster. That, in turn, causes the effects of alcohol to last much longer. That’s why “moderate use” of alcohol is considered to be one glass of wine for women.
Women are more likely to develop long-term health conditions and issues from drinking alcohol, including:
● Brain damage: Cognitive decline and brain shrinkage because of alcohol consumption develops more quickly for women than men.
● Cancer: Regular alcohol use is linked to an increased cancer risk, particularly breast, mouth, throat, esophagus, liver and colon cancer.
● Heart disease: Women are at increased risk for heart damage from prolonged alcohol consumption.
● Hormonal imbalances: Alcohol can affect hormone production and exacerbate some menopausal symptoms.
● Liver damage/disease
● Peptic ulcers
Healthy Ways To Deal with Parenting Stress
Parenting can be stressful and exhausting, even on the best of days. But there are ways to relax and de-stress without turning to alcohol. Consider trying healthy outlets for stress relief rather than drinking, including:
● Developing a hobby
● Playing a musical instrument or listening to music
● Taking time out for yourself each day
Talk with your healthcare provider if you are worried that you may be drinking too much or abusing other substances. They can put you in touch with the appropriate resources and referrals for counseling if needed.
When Is Drinking a Problem?
Enjoying an occasional glass of wine with your friends or spouse is OK. But pay attention to how much and how often you are drinking. One or two drinks at the end of the day quickly adds up to a dozen drinks over the course of a week.
If you have depression, anxiety or other mental health conditions, it may be tempting to turn to alcohol to relax. But drinking wine to alleviate the symptoms of a mental health condition can worsen your struggles and may lead to substance use disorder.
Overcoming the urge to drink alcohol is not always easy, but it is possible. If you think you may have a drinking problem, there are resources available to help.