When mommy wine jokes started becoming popular on social media a few years back, many mothers, especially those with young children, found these jokes funny and shared them across their social media profiles. Moms could totally relate, and agreed that a glass of wine surely could take the edge off a day filled with nonstop diaper changes, whining and tantrums.
But as the wine mom trend became a cultural phenomenon, the rates of alcohol use disorder, particularly among young women, began to skyrocket. In fact, between 1999-2017, the rate of deaths related to alcohol use increased 85% among women, versus 35% in men. While it may seem harmless, wine mom culture has had some real negative consequences. Let’s start by defining what this cultural phenomenon is.
What is wine mom culture?
The term “wine mom” was created as kind of a tongue-in-cheek homage to mothers who use wine and other alcoholic beverages as a way to manage the stress that accompanies parenthood. A flood of memes, ‘word art’ decor and t-shirts were emblazoned with cute sayings that promoted the carefree image of the wine mom.
The fad caught on and became almost a cultural norm, that the only thing a frenzied mother needed to survive childrearing was a daily glass of wine — or three. Facebook groups, such as “Moms Who Need Wine,” and movies like Bad Moms only fueled the wine mom culture. Even Saturday Night Live jumped on the bandwagon, featuring a silly skit depicting a wine moms gathering.
Dangers of wine mom culture
In reality, anytime an individual feels the need to use a substance to relieve stress, anxiety or depression, it is a telltale sign of self-medicating. Relying on a substance to numb uncomfortable emotions is an unhealthy coping mechanism that can cause serious repercussions. While wine mom culture appears harmless and even funny at a first glance, has the potential to pose some real dangers, including:
- Impairs ability to parent the children: Mothers must be alert and ready to respond to all of the unpredictable events involving their child. Alcohol slows both cognitive and physical reaction time.
- Sets a poor example for children: Parents teach by example, and kids mimic their parents Drinking regularly while in the presence of a child increases the possibility that they, too, will grow up to have an issue with alcohol.
- Increases risk for accidents and injuries: Alcohol impairs the motor reflexes, putting them at a higher risk for injuries, including accidents caused by driving while under the influence.
- Increases risk for developing an alcohol use disorder: Consistent heavy drinking is likely to result in an alcohol use disorder. This happens when the brain’s neural pathways become altered in response to the increase in dopamine production, leading to dependence and/or addiction.
- Increases risk of liver disease: There has been a spike in alcohol liver disease, with the largest increase occurring among women. Because of the differences in the ways women metabolize alcohol, it can damage a woman’s liver at a faster rate than a man’s.
- Promotes a negative stereotype: The wine mom concept may have started off as just a lighthearted view of the particular pressures mothers face. But as this parody of women continues to spread through memes on social media, it promotes the unflattering idea that women need alcohol to cope with stress.
Although the wine mom culture may have seemed like harmless fun when it emerged, it may be at least partly responsible for fueling excessive alcohol consumption among young women.
In addition, some women already battle alcohol use disorder and may struggle to sustain sobriety among fellow mothers who are advocates of the “mommy juice.” In essence, wine mom culture is anything but funny.
Ashley Addiction Treatment, formerly Father Martin’s Ashley, is a nationally recognized nonprofit leader in integrated, evidence-based treatment for substance use disorders. Our programs are accredited by The Joint Commission, and result in frequent publications of ongoing research into effective treatment methodologies. We offer holistic care that encompasses the mind, body and spirit through inpatient and outpatient treatment, provide drug detox, relapse prevention plans, family wellness programs and a variety of other services tailored to each patient’s unique needs. Our driving principle — “everything for recovery” — reinforces our mission to transform and save lives through the science of medicine, the art of therapy and the compassion of spirituality, and is complemented by our philosophy of healing with respect and dignity. For information about our comprehensive programs, please call 866-313-6307.