Mommy wine culture is a modern cultural celebration of mothers drinking alcohol, mainly wine. On the surface, it can seem accepting, if not liberating, but is this really the case? Alcohol abuse is a serious problem for millions of people, but is mommy wine culture about good vibes or enabling addiction?
What Is Mommy Wine Culture
While it is not a legitimate technical term, it wont take long on the internet to understand what is meant by mommy wine culture. It is a meme-like cultural phenomenon that celebrates use use of wine as a coping mechanism for the stresses of motherhood. Primarily driven by social media, this trend involves the sharing of images of a mother with a glass of wine, often accompanied by a joke about stress.
Wine mom culture tends to revolve around the idea that the best, if not only, way a mother can cope with being a parent is by drinking wine. There is even plentiful merchandise out there to promote and encourage drinking. This can range from one glasses with slogans emblazoned on them along the lines of “mommy juice” or t-shirts with similar phrases.
It has even become a popular gift theme around mother’s day and Christmas, with friends and loved ones joining in on the fun. But sometimes the meme can also make light of alcohol addiction and even encourage the idea that wine is the only option to deal with stress and pressure.
With social media becoming so integral to our daily lives, more and more people are being subjected to peer pressure and increased social expectations. Women and mothers especially are pushed to present their life story as being perfect and under control. For some, mommy wine culture is a light-hearted meme, while for others it can be a part of a wider drinking problem.
The Pressures on Mothers
Being a parent is never easy, and in many cultures and communities women are still the primary caregivers in the family. Many women find themselves responsible for the majority of the work needed to raise children, and lack the support networks that used to be available to women. Instead, there is more pressure than ever.
Motherhood is less and less seen as a full-time occupation, and more of something that should be juggled alongside a separate career. With parenthood becoming more expensive, there is also pressure on both sets of parents to work full time, while moms are still expected to present themselves as being ‘good mothers’ at the same time as being financially successful and independent. This can lead to feelings of anxiety and shame, leading many moms to self medicate through alcohol use.
This pressure from society to be a good or perfect mother is taking a tole on moms. According to a study published in the National Library of Medicine, pressure to be a perfect mom was positively related to parental burnout and led to an increase in stress. This pressure came from multiple sources, including their parents, society, other moms, as well as from their own inherent ideas about motherhood.
Postnatal depression is another source of stress that can lead towards alcoholism. This condition is characterized by feelings of anxiety, depression, and fear in the months after having a child. It is sometimes tied up with feelings of shame about not having an immediate and perfect bond with the newborn child or of being a bad parent as a result of these thoughts. As with any other form of depression, this is a medical condition that can be treated.
With so many factors involved, it can feel liberating for a mom to be able to relax with a drink after a hard day. Wine moms can offer each other support and understanding in the face of an all consuming responsibility. For many women it can feel like their entire life is taken up by parenting. To see so many other moms dealing with it by drinking a glass, or bottle, of wine might seem like harmless fun.
Alcohol is addictive and drinking too much or too often can lead to alcohol use disorder (AUD), previously known as alcoholism. AUD is a condition whereby a person is less able, or unable, to control their alcohol use. They may keep drinking regardless of the effects on their health and social life and struggle to stop. Many people with AUD have or go on to develop another substance abuse issue.
Alcohol Dependency and Withdrawal
Even without an addiction, a wine mom might find herself with an alcohol dependency. Dependency can be defined as the existence of withdrawal symptoms when trying to quit drinking. Withdrawal symptoms can occur regardless of any addiction or binge drinking. Some withdrawal symptoms include:
- shakey hands
- trouble sleeping
- sweating more than normal
The Effects of Drinking on Physical Health
Extreme alcohol consumption can lead to all sorts of physical health problems. This includes jaundice, liver damage, and even brain damage. The liver damage caused by alcohol abuse can be debilitating and may lead to very serious problems down the line, to the extent that it can threaten a person’s life.
The Effects of Drinking on Mental Health
The occasional glass of wine is not likely to lead to big alcohol-related mental health issues. Getting drunk frequently or binge drinking can make people feel depressed and irritable, however. People often report a short temper as a result of excess drinking, which can make it very difficult to take care of children.
Alcohol Abuse and Parenting
Having a drink at night is a way that many people, not just parents, deal with the demands of their lives. Each person has their own way of winding down, but toxic mommy wine culture can lead people to drink to the point of creating more stress, instead of helping to alleviate it.
A study published by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) showed that over seven and a half million children in the United States lived with at least one parent who had experienced AUD in the past year. This equates to about one tenth of all the children in the country. Living with a parent with AUD can have a profound effect on kids and can have negative impacts that continue throughout their lives.
This same study also stated that children of parents with AUD were more likely to have difficulties socially and at school than those who didn’t. These kids were also at a higher risk of neglect or abuse at the hands of their parents.
Mommy Wine Culture and the Rise in Women’s Drinking
As a result of the coronavirus lockdowns, women increased their alcohol consumption overall. A sense of being isolated from support structures and the added pressure of children not being able to go to school was difficult for many parents. This may have been made worse by the pandemic, although research published by the National Institue on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) shows that drinking is increasing amongst women anyway.
Mommy wine culture may have started as a way to share and cope with the stresses of parenting, however it seems to also be leading to more moms drinking overall. Being a “wine mom” can also put women under social pressure to drink wine as part of a social identity. It can be embarrassing to be the sober mom when everyone else has a glass of wine.
With mothers being under more pressure to be ‘supermoms’, while simultaneously experiencing peer pressure on social media to also be a ‘wine mom’, it can be understood why more and more women are developing AUD.
Treatment Options for Alcohol Addiction
Fortunately, there is help for those who want to quit drinking. Many rehabs centers and addiction treatment centers are able to offer programs to help people leave alcohol behind.
Many treatment programs will begin with a detox, to help reducing alcohol consumption without so many of the harsh withdrawal effects. Trying to go ‘cold turkey’, or quitting all at once, can be risky and so it is best to get the help of a medical professional.
Therapy, such as cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) is frequently used to help people deal with the complex factors that lead to alcohol and substance abuse issues. Making sense of why someone is addicted can make recovery efforts more effective and long-lasting.
There are also support groups that can help people disentangle being a wine mom from any addiction of dependency issues they may have. These groups also offer a way to help another person at the same time as receiving treatment yourself, which can improve the chances of recovery.
Being a mom can be hard, and having a drink doesn’t have to be a problem. Too much can be harmful though, and make parenting even more difficult. Getting treatment for AUD can be the first step on the road to a happier life for both parents and children. Here at Crossroads Antigua you can get 24/7 support throughout your detox, as well as a whole range of counseling and therapies. Our complimentary therapies can also help improve your mental health holistically, alongside addiction treatment. Get in contact today to start your journey to recovery.