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Home Alone: Binge-Drinking and Motherhood

Not too long ago, I had dinner with one of my high-school friends – someone I hadn’t seen in several years.

I remember thinking she had a picture-perfect Facebook life – a hot husband, two beautiful kids and an enormous house in Scottsdale. That’s why I was surprised when she divulged there were indeed cracks beneath the surface.
In reality, my friend’s marriage was crumbling, her toddlers’ incessant screaming made her feel homicidal and life as a full-time mom felt oppressively monotonous.

Like many mothers in the same situation, my friend turned to wine to take the edge off.

A Troubling Trend

The drinking habits of stay-at-home moms piqued my interest, so I decided to take a closer look at the “wine-as-reward” culture in our society.

Within minutes of Googling, I found books like “Sippy Cups are Not for Chardonnay” and websites like “Moms Who Need Wine.” Drinking within the stay-at-home mom/dad community is almost encouraged; I also found several blogs highlighting moms who treat play dates happy hours instead of opportunities for their kids to socialize.

It comes as no surprise, then, that women are drinking more than ever before and experts worry that they could be putting themselves and their kids at risk. In fact, one in eight women are believed to binge-drink at least three times a month, consuming an average of six drinks per occasion, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The increase in alcohol consumption isn’t limited to young singles. In a recent study of 1,250 adults, those with children living at home were the most likely to drink heavily and/or binge drink. And in a survey conducted in 2014, more than one-third of the respondents claimed to have mothers and/or female friends with a drinking problem.

Having it All?

Why are all these moms turning to the bottle? Research suggests that a woman’s self-imposed pressure and the desire to be a “supermom” can cause anxiety, stress and depression.

Knocking back a cold one is not only an attempt to numb difficult emotions, it’s also a socially acceptable and inexpensive way to unwind after a long and stressful day. This habit can quickly progress since it’s easier to justify the amount of alcohol consumed. What’s more, there are fewer warning signs or consequences of drinking in the privacy of your own home, making it easier for functioning alcoholics to cling to outward appearances and deny deeper issues.

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