Please Stop Calling Young Moms Who Drink “Alcoholics”

Please Stop Calling Young Moms Who Drink "Alcoholics" | Houston Moms Blog

I recently read an article that discussed the “wine culture” of young moms today. The article was a call to action for people to stop lightheartedly tossing around phrases such as, “Mommy needs a drink” or spending money on things like wine glasses decorated with “Mommy’s sippy cup” and to recognize that there are serious dangers to drinking alcohol in excess, particularly in the presence of children. While I fully understood the intent of the article, one line set me off in a big way. The article stated that young mothers who “frequently consume alcohol are turning into alcoholics”. However, there was absolutely no quantifier in the article as to exactly how often or how much alcohol consumption qualifies one to be given the label of “alcoholic”, it just broad brush stroked all young moms of today who consume alcohol in various quantities and intervals as budding alcoholics. Moms clubs were specifically called out, book clubs, BUNCO groups, play groups…you name it.  It was implied that we are all turning into alcoholics. I’m sorry – say WHAT?! 

That article is not the only article I’ve read recently that implies actual alcohol abuse issues among younger moms of today. Just Google, “young moms who drink wine” and you will find a treasure trove of articles and opinion letters about how the “wine culture” of young moms today is becoming more of a problem than in the past. Most of what I’ve read approaches the topic in a very logical and healthy way after interviewing counselors, social workers or medical professionals that cite rising cases of young moms who seek treatment for alcohol abuse. Typical stories involve examples of people who binge drink regularly during the day, people who drink so much they experience physical symptoms of withdrawal when they don’t have a drink, people who get DWI citations for getting behind the wheel when they’ve had too much alcohol, etc. 

Since I am somewhat of a dork at times about particular topics, I jumped into full on research mode after reading that initial article.  I came across definitions from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism {NIAAA}, which is one of the twenty-seven institutes and centers that comprise the National Institute of Health {NIH}.  Through my research, I learned that “alcoholic” isn’t really even a term that is used anymore; instead it’s referred to as “Alcohol Use Disorder” {AUD} which is defined as “A chronic relapsing brain disease characterized by an impaired ability to control alcohol use despite adverse social, occupational, or health consequences.” I also learned that “Binge Drinking” is defined as “A pattern of drinking that brings blood alcohol concentration {BAC} levels to 0.08 g/dL which typically occurs after 4 drinks for women and 5 drinks for men – in about two hours.” And according to the NIAAA, “Heavy Alcohol Use” is defined as “Binge drinking on 5 or more days in the past month.

Nowhere in my research though did images of young moms like me and my girlfriends who enjoy indulging in a glass of wine or beer a few times a week with {or without!} girlfriends or colleagues come up. Nowhere in my research did I come across any medical studies around young moms who drink alone on occasion from the comfort of their own couch after a long, stressful day turning into alcoholics. Folks, it is high time to change the narrative around moms who drink. Furthermore, it is time to change the narrative around all women {regardless of motherhood status} who drink and below are 3 reasons why I believe it is so dangerous to call young moms who drink “alcoholics.”  

It minimizes those who actually have a problem with addiction

I come from a family that has dealt with addiction {multiple generations of it in fact…mostly alcohol} and I can attest to the fact that it is no joke. My family members who have struggled with addiction were not just consuming alcohol occasionally with friends or colleagues. They were not simply imbibing a glass or two at the end of a long, stressful day with the kids. Instead, they were consuming alcohol to the point where they had lost control and physically became addicted.  Alcohol Use Disorder {AUD} is a very real thing and according to the NIAAA, roughly 15 million adults aged 18 & older suffer from AUD. People with this condition can’t just turn it on and off as they please. They do not have the ability to live it up with girlfriends one night yet keep it in check the next like many others do. Instead, they require carefully prescribed and very specific medical and psychological interventions to help set them on the path to recovery. Young moms who get together for book clubs, wine nights, or even those who enjoy a glass of wine alone at home aren’t exactly the poster children for Alcoholics Anonymous and to even imply that they are is an insult to those who truly struggle with real addiction.

It perpetuates the double standard of what is socially acceptable for men vs. women

The fact that we are even having this discussion proves my point. When was the last time you read something about men’s poker clubs or softball leagues that include adult beverages sending men down a dark path to alcohol abuse? Or the last time you heard about a man being shamed for having a drink to unwind at the end of a stressful day?  Anyone read anything recently about men enjoying a few cold ones during the big game suddenly finding themselves out of control and unable to regulate their alcohol consumption? I didn’t think so.  We have to stop perpetuating the double standard of what is socially acceptable for men to do versus women, and this includes opinions around drinking. 

It unfairly labels & ostracizes young moms 

This should come as no surprise, but it is TOUGH to be a young mom in today’s society. The pressure from social media to be perfect has never been more intense and the judgement placed on both mothers and fathers has never been more critical and harsh. I don’t know about you, but having a glass of wine at a social gathering often helps me to loosen up and make the transition from a stressful day to an enjoyable gathering amongst friends easier. Same thing goes for coming home at the end of a long day at work only to deal with several hours of a moody toddler and finally enjoying a glass of wine in silence from my living room couch. Drinking in a controlled manner even several times a week does not make someone an alcoholic and we need to stop throwing around that term so lightly. With it comes a lot of guilt and shame that frankly young moms do not deserve since they are only engaging in a perfectly normal social behavior. Motherhood can be incredibly lonely at times and rarely do we know for sure that what we are doing is what is best for our kids. If a glass of wine helps to take some of the pressure off, please don’t judge and label us as alcoholics. The clear majority of us have no problem at all ceasing any and all alcoholic beverages the moment we find out we are pregnant with our children, which is something that individuals who truly struggle with addiction are incapable of doing on their own. So please stop calling us alcoholics if we plan a wine night and let loose a little, and in return we’ll stop making comments about Mommy “needing a drink.”

Public Service Announcement:  If you do think you have a problem with alcohol, you are not alone and there are many resources available to help.  Please reach out and get the help you deserve.

 


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Vicki has always had Texan blood pumping through her veins. Raised in Katy as the oldest of four girls and now a resident of Kingwood, she’s known for her undying and somewhat fanatical love of all things related to H-E-B, Amazon Prime, Taylor Swift, and Texas A&M, her alma mater {WHOOP!}. She has a passion for supporting other working moms in the workplace, as well as military veterans. Married to Paul since 2011 {also an Aggie and a veteran}, she has three kids:: step-daughter Madeline {2003} and sons Hamilton {2014}, and Harrison {2019}. By day, Vicki is a full-time working mom who works in HR and by night she’s a closet “60 Minutes” & “Real Housewives” fan. Always first out on the dance floor for “Pour Some Sugar on Me”, Vicki enjoys unwinding with friends over a glass of wine, a new craft brew and/or a H-E-B cheese ball.

6 COMMENTS

    • I think the people who are reading this article are looking for a reason to justify there own drinking habits. To make themselves feel better about the fact that they have been the exact person who is described in these other said articles. There is a huge culture around wine drinking and moms and making it seem as though it’s ok to drink to solve your problems. “Mommy’s juice” and other memes that include such things are absolutely disgraceful and do make these said moms feel as though there drinking habits are normal. But in all reality you don’t have to be a bum on the side of the street without a dollar to your name and no home to be considered to have an AUD, as you put it. There’s a reason there’s a term called “highly functioning alcoholic” which most moms would fit under who drink wine everyday. If your drinking everyday, or even every other day. Your drinking excessively. It’s sad that society has made people feel it’s “cool” to drink mommy juice just to get through raising children. This article is nothing but a defense mechanism to make these other moms feel there still “normal” so they can continue to drink there mommy juice.

      • Thank you for your feedback. Everyone definitely has their own perspective on this hot topic. Just curious, do you have the same view of men who drink a beer every day and consider them highly functioning alcoholics as well?

        • Some of the young men who binge drink aren’t even functioning anythings! Check out Caitlin Flanagan’s “The Dark Power of Fraternities” for an eye-opening account of young men binge drinking on campus and the disastrous results that ensue. So yes, when men drink compulsively and knock down a fifth of booze every day, I WOULD call them alcoholics!

          But, unfair as it is, women are affected faster and more severely by alcohol than men are. We can’t “keep up with the boys” when it comes to drinking and we shouldn’t try! Our health and even our lives depend on recognizing this and acting on it wisely – and on not waiting until we’ve awoken in a strange bed after a blackout to do so.

  1. Very well written. I too am familiar with AUD my dad quit drinking when I was young. I’ve always made it a point that I will never drink too much or too often I don’t want it develop into that. I know as long as I have weeks sometimes where I don’t drink anything or a week where maybe one night I have a few etc it is OKAY. Our labeling of others for this or so many other things just needs to stop. Raise one another up and be supportive not destructive!!!

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