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What is “Wine Mom Culture” and is it Dangerous?

If you’ve ever read a parenting blog or followed any parenting social media sites, you may have heard the term “wine mom.” But if you haven’t, here’s a quick rundown.

Wine mom culture developed as a cultural phenomenon around 2010. It is rooted in the idea that busy, overworked moms use wine to get through the long days and sleepless nights of parenting young children. 

The idea of “wine mom culture” started off with memes featuring moms drinking out of massive wine glasses or making jokes about it being “wine o’clock.” Mommy bloggers referred to boxes of wine as “adult juice boxes” and “mommy juice.” 

Wine mom culture began as an attempt to find humor in the ceaseless, thankless work of motherhood. However, many people in the United States struggle with alcohol abuse, and the idea of “wine mom culture” highlighted the problem.

Moderate drinking can be part of a generally healthy lifestyle. But what happens when one drink becomes three, or if that glass of wine is the only way you can cope with the stress of parenting or life in general?

This article will explore wine mom culture, alcohol abuse, and signs that you may need help to address an addiction. Reach out to the caring specialists at the Mandala Healing Center to learn more about our holistic treatment programs or for support during any stage of your addiction recovery. 

Wine Mom Culture: When it Stops Being Funny

Many popular parenting blogs and social media accounts reference drinking. Urban Dictionary defines a wine mom as “a middle-aged woman who drinks wine from Whole Foods with her friends.” Even some culinary blogs make reference to drinking in their names. What started as a lighthearted joke about women drinking to cope with stress has become a normalized idea in our culture. So, why is this a dangerous idea?

When alcohol abuse is normalized, people become numb to it and may not realize the harm their drinking is doing until it’s too late. If a mom looks forward to that nightly glass of wine so much that they start drinking earlier and earlier in the day, is it a problem–or are they just a “wine mom”?

The line between everyday social drinking and self-medication can get blurry when our culture accepts–and sometimes glorifies–the idea of moms drinking to combat stress. And one thing that’s always true: alcohol abuse is never a laughing matter.

Understanding How Alcohol Abuse Begins

Drinking alcohol is widely accepted in the culture of the United States. You’ll find alcoholic beverages at many social gatherings and public spaces. From happy hour to boozy brunch and everything in between, if you want to have a drink, you’ll probably have the opportunity to have one.

With alcohol so widely available and accepted, alcohol abuse can sometimes be hard to spot. Where is the line between healthy drinking and alcohol abuse?

Many people fall into unhealthy drinking patterns without realizing what is happening. Some people start out enjoying a drink after work or a glass of wine after the kids are in bed to help them unwind. Is this healthy, or is it a sign of a problem?

It depends. If someone has one drink a day and feels satisfied, it is not likely to be a problem. However, drinking regularly can lead to tolerance–meaning your body has adjusted to the amount of alcohol you regularly consume, and you need to drink more to get the same effect. Over time, one glass of wine in the evening can turn into two or three. Or, a person may start drinking earlier in the afternoon and continue until bedtime. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that people drink moderately. Moderate drinking is defined as:

  • One or fewer alcoholic drinks per day for women
  • Two or fewer alcoholic drinks per day for men

A “drink” is defined as:

  • 12 ounces of beer
  • 5 ounces of wine
  • 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits
  • 8 ounces of malt liquor

Regularly exceeding this amount of alcohol is considered heavy drinking and is a form of alcohol abuse that may lead to addiction.

Signs of Alcohol Abuse and Addiction

If you’re concerned about your drinking–or others have expressed concern–take time to evaluate your alcohol consumption honestly. Be aware of the signs of alcohol addiction, including:

  • You think about alcohol a lot or crave it when you’re sober
  • You get anxious if you run out of alcohol
  • You drive under the influence, have risky sex, or engage in other dangerous behavior while intoxicated
  • You experience withdrawal symptoms like anxiety, insomnia, nausea, sweating, and tremors when the buzz wears off
  • You need to drink more to get the desired effects
  • You continue to drink even when it damages your health, social life, safety, or emotional well-being

There is no shame in asking for help to overcome alcoholism. If you exhibit some of these signs of alcohol addiction, seek treatment right away. 

Self-Medicating With Alcohol: Wine Mom Culture or Sign of a Problem?

Parenting young children comes with massive responsibility and challenges that can leave people feeling drained at the end (or, if we’re being honest, the beginning) of each day. A central aspect of “wine mom culture” is that it’s OK to drink wine to relieve the stress of motherhood. On social media, self-identified wine moms will talk about common parenting problems–toddler tantrums, endless cleaning, bedtime struggles–and wonder aloud if it’s “wine o’clock” yet.

But all the funny memes and blog posts about wine as a solution for stress may normalize self-medication. Self-medicating means using substances like alcohol to relieve the symptoms of a mental health or medical condition. People may self-medicate with drugs or alcohol to relieve physical or emotional pain–including stress.

The truth is that women are generally tasked with more of the hands-on aspects of parenting. They are often the “default parent”–the one who handles the messy, repetitive, exhausting aspects of parenting. Moms’ stress levels are high for a good reason–but self-medicating with alcohol isn’t the answer.

Get Help Now

If you are a parent who struggles with alcohol misuse, you are not alone. Reach out to the caring specialists at the Mandala Healing Center to learn more about our alcoholism treatment programs or find other forms of support during recovery.