What started as a way for moms to socialize, have a little fun, and serve as a source of playful but harmless memes and social media material ten years ago has taken a wrong turn, and is now developing into a health crisis. “Mommy Wine Culture,” originally conceived as a way for overworked and stressed-out moms to relax and enjoy each other’s company, has evolved into a crisis of sorts, with many wine mommies paying a tough price for taking what was considered a joke a little too far.
The “Wine Mommy” is a creation of the internet, and although the phenomenon has died down somewhat, it still has a major presence online. Wine mommies were born out of mommy blogs and websites. Basically, the culture was developed as a defense mechanism. It provided overtaxed “supermoms,” who somehow managed to work full time, take care of the kids, and maintain a household with an outlet to blow off steam and relax with other moms in the same shoes. A social “club” of sorts, allowed moms to share their stories and be authentic with a group of peers who lived the same sort of lives and wanted to share their experiences, – good or bad.
Predictably, the mommy wine culture took off. Thousands of well-followed mommy blogs were created, and many women with digital marketing skills were able to turn their experiences into cottage industries. Some became internet celebs. Others national spokeswomen for their “culture.” Books were written. Products were sold. What the mommy wine culture didn’t count on, – or expect – were the problems that many have encountered that started with something as simple as ending the night with a glass of chardonnay after putting the kids to bed. These non-intended circumstances have produced a health crisis for women that no one saw coming. Here are some of the issues that “Mommy Wine Culture” has created.
- Normalizing Alcoholism; creating a new Culture of Functional Alcoholics
Despite innocent intentions, many wine mommies have come out to reveal that their one glass of wine each evening to relax developed into drinking a bottle or more per night. An alarming number of moms admitted that their drinking to relax actually caused more stress and anxiety, leading them to believe they needed more alcohol to deal with these newly created problems. Because of that, many wine mommies have come to the realization that they were on the cusp of having a problem with alcohol, and they were right for a number of reasons. First, binge drinking for women is a dangerous proposition. According to the National Institutes of Health, that equates to around four drinks over two hours, a common starting place for many wine mommies. Second, this type of alcohol consumption leads to hangovers and illness that many admit makes their jobs, – both as moms and professionally – much harder. Finally, being a “functional alcoholic” https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/addiction/high-functioning-alcoholic#1 is also inherently dangerous in that it implies “real alcoholics” are dysfunctional failures, incapable of living good and productive lives. There is a thin line between function and dysfunction, and many wine mommies straddle that line uncomfortably.
- The Potential for Long-Term Health Issues
For many wine mommies, self-medicating becomes a major problem that has and can lead to unexpected health problems down the road. This is especially true among women who already suffer from undiagnosed emotional and psychological issues. The World Health Organization reports that 10% of women suffer from depression and another 8% from anxiety disorders. Alcohol exacerbates these conditions, and many women are unaware of this. Physiologically, women are just not as capable as men when it comes to “handling” alcohol. Their bodies are smaller, and contain less water, resulting in even small amounts of alcohol having toxic effects on the body. Because women produce smaller quantities of the enzyme alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH), which breaks down alcohol in the body, women get drunk faster, process the alcohol out at a slower rate and become dependent on it more easily than men. Recent studies done by the CDC have also shown that the cirrhosis death rate among women 46-54 shot up by 57% from 2000-2015. Women visiting the Emergency Room due to reasons having to do with alcohol consumption are also on the rise. Overall, alcoholic moms are more likely to develop heart disease, brain damage, and liver damage than alcoholic men. There are a lot of dangers lurking in that bottle of red or white for today’s wine mommies, but there is help available.
- Family Dysfunction
Problems associated with an alcoholic mom or dad aren’t just limited to the individual. The Mommy Wine Culture can certainly impose a major threat to the family as a whole. Addictive behaviors and mental illnesses run in families because of both genetic factors and learned behaviors. If a Wine Mommy has a parent who is an alcoholic, she is at more of a risk of becoming one. And, studies show that women are less likely to seek treatment for alcoholism and other behavioral-related problems than men. Additionally, kids of alcoholic parents are more likely to be abused, suffer accidental injuries, and follow in the footsteps of their parents. The problem with many Wine Mommies is that although they may seem to have it all together on the outside, they are conflicted and tormented on the inside. This is a huge issue, not only for the wine mom but for her kids, because they know when mommy is “sick,” or when something is bothering her. When it starts to go bad for wine mommies, the signs may be as simple as failing to prepare meals, not picking kids up from school, and spending less quality time with them. Many have admitted that their dependence on alcohol changed their priorities and the ability to focus on what is truly important. It’s critical to remember that this type of dysfunctional behavior was NOT brought on by the actions of the children; it is solely the responsibility of the wine mommy. Without getting help or making changes, this family dysfunction only snowballs and gets worse. To avoid it or stop it before it starts, wine mommies have to realize it and take the actions necessary to correct it.
- A Culture Based on Excuses
Whether true or not, the prevailing reason that “supermoms” become wine mommies are considered ridiculous by some, and understandable by others: to deal with the stress of parenting. For many, it starts as a tongue-in-cheek social experiment, influenced by mommy blogs, cute wine mommy memes, and a catalog of wine mommy swag including wine glasses, apparel, hats, jewelry, and home décor items. Few, if any, ever anticipated that the glass of wine after giving the kids a bath, or weekly Happy Hour with the neighborhood moms, they would be staring a growing problem in the eyes. But, many have, including Harmony Hobbs. At one time a leading figure in the wine mommy culture, the mother of three from Louisiana always seemed to have it together. A successful insurance agent, Hobbs created “Modern Mommy Madness,” a successful blog influenced by the wine mommy lifestyle. She did a podcast with her best where they drank glasses of wine while reviewing new products. By anyone’s standards, she had a great life, and seemingly enjoyed it. But there was also a dark side. She drank to cope with the stresses of being a mother and a wife. It started innocently enough, just a glass of wine or two a night.
She became a stay-at-home mom. The stresses of being a mom 24/7 became overwhelming at times, causing the pours to be bigger and come more often. It got to a point that from the moment she woke up, she was looking forward to her nightly happy hour which had grown from two glasses to more than a bottle a night. Still, she shook off any signs her drinking was becoming a problem. She became distracted and distant. To fight that, she would become angry, often taking her unresolved emotions out on her husband and children. Realizing she was becoming depressed and miserable, she knew a change had to be made if she wanted to keep her family. Although she was still “high functioning,” she stopped making excuses and realized that she was indeed an alcoholic. She quit cold turkey and has never looked back. Although there are many success stories https://www.self.com/story/why-wine-mom-culture-is-problematic like Harmony Hobbs’, there is an equal number of wine mommies who do not become sober. The one characteristic that all wine mommies share is that they drink to relieve the stress of raising kids and a family. It’s a convenient excuse, but one many have to conquer in order to maintain their personal and family health.
If you have a wine mom in your life or believe you may be a wine mom with a problem, please reach out to us. We can help you to start the road to your sobriety. Contact us today, at 855-448-3588.