Photo by Ales Maze on Unsplash
It is wine o'clock
‘Is it just me – or does orange juice taste funny without vodka?’
‘People say laughter is the best medicine, but I’d like to think a big bottle of wine is the way to go.’
'I finally found my sleep number. It is 6. Six glasses of wine.'
You may have seen memes like these online. But, you also see the jokes on t-shirts or wine glasses.
The ‘wine mom culture’ says the answer to parenting in everyday life is … to drink. Yes, it is humorous – but all too often, these 'mommy-needs-a-drink' memes hide real struggles with alcohol.
Motherhood is challenging, exhausting, and overwhelming.
‘Guzzle the wine – it helps.’
The ‘Mommy Juice’ culture because popular in the early 2000s. It is just a joke for most, but recently moms have been starting to speak out about how the wine culture can encourage drinking and become a cover-up for excessive drinking and a way of 'normalizing' alcoholism. It happened slowly and somewhat sneakily – but it happened.
Women often shoulder most of the burden of child-rearing and household tasks, which can be isolating. Moms joke about turning to wine because it is a way of sharing their burdens and finding like-minded friends who are also struggling and who also need a laugh.
However, the wine mom culture has become a significant public health concern. The US National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism has recently found that women engage in more high-risk drinking – defined as having more than four drinks per day.
In contrast, moderate alcohol consumption guidelines advocate only one drink per day for women. Of course, it is not to say that everyone has a drinking problem, but the culture creates a harmful environment for women who do struggle with alcohol.
The long-term effects
Wine is not the solution
The most considerable risk for moderate alcohol consumption is that it can lead to more drinking over time. The more you drink, the more you stress, and therefore drinking to 'manage stress' doesn't make sense.
Women also tend to metabolize alcohol slower than men, meaning they get drunk faster. The effects of alcohol then also last longer. As a result, women are more likely to experience hangovers, blackouts, and liver inflammation.
Alcohol impacts liver function to varying degrees and can worsen digestive and hormonal symptoms as women get older. The overall effects of alcohol use over time can increase the risk of cancer (of the mouth, throat, liver, colon, and also breast cancer), as well as cause liver disease.
Weight gain, changes in digestion, hot flushes, and constipation can all be clues that alcohol is harming your health.
Other long-term health conditions and issues for women may include:
Alternatives to Mommy Juice
There are ways to de-stress without turning to alcohol. You can:
Start a new hobby
Listen to music or start playing a musical instrument
Practice mindfulness and take time out for yourself each day.
If you find yourself in a downward spiral and you feel you might be addicted, going to AA meetings or a therapist might be a good idea.
It might be tempting to turn to wine to relax or curb your anxiety or depression. But rather think twice about your relationship with that glass of wine. Drinking too much alcohol too frequently can worsen how you feel and lead to a substance use disorder.
Breaking out of the ‘Mommy Juice’ club is not easy. If you think you might have a drinking problem, Largest Heart can help. Our website is open 24/7 for advice, information, and access to contact numbers and treatment recommendations.
Please talk to someone if you are worried about drinking too much. At Largest Heart, we can put you in touch with appropriate resources or a referral for counseling.