Wine is a cure-all for the stresses that come with the demanding job of parenting. At least, this is how this centuries-old beverage is viewed among the countless women who support and actively participate in mommy wine culture.
You may know women who subscribe to or participate in this movement celebrating the wonders and powers of vino, which started online in recent years on social media platforms and blogs geared toward women who care for children, according to Parentology.
Its popularity has soared in recent years with memes and merchandise filled with quips and catchphrases to let everyone know don’t get in between a woman and her wine and that moms deserve a break to do something they enjoy without feeling guilty. Even if mom craves wine, it’s OK, some supporters say.
Mommy wine culture promotes the idea that no matter if mom is a working mom, stay-at-home mom, stepmom, or single mom, she’s earned a glass of wine as a reward for holding it together while raising her children and keeping her household running.
Mothers from different walks of life bond over wine with laughs, stories, and similar motherhood experiences. Mommy wine culture has made many women feel less alone while managing challenging roles, and for many, the culture has helped them meet and befriend mothers who are going through the same thing.
On the surface, mommy wine culture could appear like harmless fun that keeps moms at the forefront so that no one forgets that she needs to think about what makes her happy, too. But observers say normalizing alcohol use on this level and promoting it as the answer to coping with stress, burnout, exhaustion, disappointment, and other unpleasant feelings is an invitation to developing problematic behavior that could lead to alcohol addiction.
Data show that alcohol use among women is on the rise; one reason why some say mommy wine culture is a red flag. Women’s relationship with alcohol has been a subject of study for many years, but data within the past 10 years show a disturbing trend.
PLOS Medicine published a study in 2019 that analyzed data between 2006 and 2018 that compared high-risk drinking behavior between women with children and childless women. It concluded that the rate of high-risk drinking among both groups rose at nearly the same pace.
Sarah McKetta of Columbia University, the study’s lead author, told NBC News that the analysis shows all women are at risk if they drink too much, whether they are moms or not. High-risk drinking includes binge drinking, the habit of having four or more alcoholic beverages in two hours. The study also found that binge drinking among men also increased in those years in the study.
A JAMA Psychiatry study also notes that high-risk drinking has gone up across various demographics. But it also underscores high-risk drinking practices among women drinkers. According to the analysis, during the 12-month period between 2012 and 2013, “notable increases were found among women” who drank during that period; the rate of alcohol use went up almost 60 percent, the analysis shows.
The increase has been linked to several factors, including that women, in general, feel more comfortable drinking now as social rules and expectations have changed. Women are also earning more opportunities to work and go to school, and many are feeling the stress of juggling their careers, families, personal life, and more. These are familiar factors seen in women who seek out wine to help them manage their lives.
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Alcohol is not harmless in excessive amounts, even if it’s in wine. Some wines contain higher alcohol content than others despite the belief some have that it is a lighter beverage than hard liquor. According to the website DifferenceBetween.net, wine can contain between 9% and 16% alcohol. Drinking alcohol can endanger a woman’s health if she drinks it irresponsibly.
As the National Institute on Alcohol Addiction and Alcoholism (NIAAA) notes, frequent drinking can put a woman at risk of long-term illnesses. The biological and physiological differences between men and women affect how the body processes alcohol. With less body weight and, therefore, less water in the body, alcohol can harm women in ways men likely will not experience. For one, her blood-alcohol content level will be higher than that of a man’s. Too much drinking can lead to:
High-risk drinking can also increase a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer, cirrhosis of the liver, and fetal alcohol spectrum disorder if she is pregnant. Women reportedly take more prescription medication than men, so there’s a higher chance they could mistakenly mix alcohol and these drugs, setting off an adverse reaction in their system. This is also due to a woman having less water in her body than a man. Drugs.com reports that alcohol and medication side effects may be especially prevalent in women more than men because of how frequently they take prescription medication.
Some may ask if the criticism of mommy wine culture is valid. Are people who discourage this approach to wine drinking overreacting and trying to ruin the fun, or do they have a valid concern? While each “wine mom” will have to answer that question for herself, a person can develop alcohol use disorder (AUD), or alcohol addiction, by drinking too much. “Drinking it too much” also includes seeking out alcohol for reasons that go beyond just being social or wanting to relax.
If you or someone you know reaches for wine whenever they feel stressed, tired, or are just trying to calm down, they may have come to associate drinking wine with relief from problems that may only grow as they continue to drink. They could also move on from wine and start to drink harder alcoholic beverages. They also can lose their sense of when it is appropriate to drink or lose how much they are drinking.
Not everyone who drinks wine will develop AUD or even have a dependence on it. However, those who may suspect AUD may notice “a pattern of alcohol use that involves problems controlling your drinking, being preoccupied with alcohol, continuing to use alcohol even when it causes problems, having to drink more to get the same effect, or having withdrawal symptoms when you rapidly decrease or stop drinking,” as the Mayo Clinic notes in its definition of the disorder.
Frequent drinking is not the only reason or factor that determines whether someone will develop an addiction. Several other factors unique to a person can bring on addiction, such as genetics, environment, mental health history, and substance use history. Even how early in life they started using substances can affect whether they will have a substance addiction.
AUD can be mild, moderate, or severe, depending on how much a person struggles to function due to how much they use substances. Suspecting AUD is one step, but getting an official diagnosis is the next. Medical or mental health professionals usually consult the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders (DSM-5) to confirm if a person has AUD.
If AUD is present, the next step is getting professional help at an accredited facility equipped with the staff and premises needed to promote recovery from addiction that focuses on mind, body, and spirit.
A person with AUD likely will start addiction treatment with a medical detox where they could receive medications to help them manage withdrawal from the substance safely. Professionals use therapies and medications that target alcohol dependence and help people in recovery understand the reasons behind their problematic alcohol use and what they can do to change their behavior.
Serenity at Summit can help you or your loved one recover from addiction to alcohol. We also can help anyone who feels they are losing or have lost control over their drinking and need help before it gets worse. Without proper treatment, alcohol abuse can worsen over time, especially if a person neglects their mental and emotional health. Drinking wine to address real problems is only a short-term band-aid that really won’t help in the end.
Call us today or reach out to use online so that we can help you start working on sobriety today.
"'Mommy Juice' Normalizing Alcohol Addiction for Women." Healthline. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/health-news/the-rise-of-mommy-juice-culture-and-its-impact-on-kids
Volkman, Claire. "'Mommy Wine Culture': Why Is It Even a Thing?" Parentology. 14 Feb. 2020. Retrieved from https://parentology.com/mommy-wine-culture-why-is-it-even-a-thing/
McKetta, Sarah, and Katherine M. Keyes. "Heavy and Binge Alcohol Drinking and Parenting Status in the United States from 2006 to 2018: An Analysis of Nationally Representative Cross-sectional Surveys." PLOS Medicine. Public Library of Science. Retrieved from https://journals.plos.org/plosmedicine/article?id=10.1371/journal.pmed.1002954
Carroll, Linda. "Moms Are Binge Drinking More, but so Are All Women, Study Finds." NBCNews.com. NBCUniversal News Group, 05 Dec. 2019. Retrieved from https://www.nbcnews.com/health/womens-health/moms-are-binge-drinking-more-so-are-all-women-study-n1091806
Bridget F. Grant, PhD. “Prevalence of Alcohol Use, High-Risk Drinking, and DSM-IV Alcohol Use Disorder.” JAMA Psychiatry, JAMA Network, 1 Sept. 2017 from https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamapsychiatry/fullarticle/2647079
Drug and Alcohol Interactions – What to Avoid. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.drugs.com/article/medications-and-alcohol.html
"Women and Alcohol." National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 24 Feb. 2020. Retrieved from https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/brochures-and-fact-sheets/women-and-alcohol
Celine. "Difference Between Alcohol and Wine." Difference Between Similar Terms and Objects. 16 July 2018. Retrieved from http://www.differencebetween.net/object/comparisons-of-food-items/difference-between-alcohol-and-wine/
Mayo Clinic. Alcohol Use Disorder. Overview. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/alcohol-use-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20369243