How Much Alcohol Is Too Much
Binge drinking and motherhood
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The image of women who drink alcohol to cope with the challenges of motherhood pervades modern culture. Blogs and books with names like Reasons Mommy Drinks, Nap Time Is the New Happy Hour and Must. Have. Wine: A Toast to Motherhood attract scads of readers. TV moms from Mad Men’s Betty Draper to Parenthood’s Braverman brood sling full wineglasses around like diaper bags. On social media, “Mommy needs a drink” has become a meme, a punch line. But the rising number of moms who drink to excess — for whatever reason — is no joke.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in eight adult women binge-drink — defined as having four or more drinks at a time — about three times a month, consuming an average of six drinks per occasion. A 2013 survey from PA-based Caron Treatment Centers found that 88 percent of respondents who eventually sought treatment for drinking — 74 percent of whom identified as moms — drank at home rather than out in public, and 70 percent copped to having driven under the influence.
Those are sobering stats if you drop your kids off at a neighbor’s house for a playdate or allow them to carpool with other moms behind the wheel — especially if you’ve heard too many “It’s five o’clock somewhere” cracks at the morning bus stop or you’ve witnessed casual mom drinking on the sidelines of a soccer game. (Is it water or vodka in that plastic bottle?) What’s behind the seeming increase in blatant mommy drinking?
“Women, especially moms who work outside the home, have many roles to fill,” says Erin Goodhart, Caron’s clinical supervisor of adult primary care for women. “By the end of the day, it can feel like, ‘Where’s my time?’ ” For many moms who drink as a habit, she continues, tying one (or more) on becomes a way to give back to themselves and face the rigors of their lives.
Next page: The dangers of mom drinking and ways to cut down