As we know, parenthood is not for the faint of heart. Between raising children, a busy career, financial pressures, aging parents, changing bodies, the stresses can be overwhelming.

Throughout the years, mothers have managed stress in different ways.

In 1960 the first benzodiazepine, Librium, was introduced. Valium followed in 1963. These medications were advertised as “Mother’s Little Helpers.”

Advertising slogans such as “Now she can cope,” and “You can’t set her free. But you can help her feel less anxious” were rampant. Take a pill and feel better. Easy peasy.

But, as the dangers of benzodiazepine abuse and addiction have become more prevalent and better understood, alcohol has assumed a greater role in managing stress both for men and women—and increasingly for women.


A 2017 study sponsored by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism laid out our new pro-booze culture with these stark statistics: from 2001 to 2013, the prevalence of alcohol use among women in the U.S. rose nearly 16 percent. During the same timeframe, the percentage of women who have four or more drinks on a given day on a weekly basis shot up 58 percent.

Those are astonishing statistics. Of all alcoholic beverages, wine is the most commonly imbibed by women. Cocktails are a close second. The problem with wine is that it is socially acceptable, easy to serve, and even expected.

Stopping by to pick up a kid from a playdate? Have a glass (or two) of wine. Going to a kid’s sporting event? Have some wine. I don’t think that “let’s have some shots of tequila” would be looked upon in the same way.

There is a phrase floating around: “The Mommy Wine Culture.” The Mommy Wine Culture is a “culture” that encourages drinking alcohol to take the edge off of parenting and which has been reinforced by internet memes, slogans and products with mantras like “mommy’s juice box” or “I wine because my kids whine.” It is all over social media, mugs, t-shirts—you name it.

In many ways, what is happening resembles the 1950’s, but now mothers are using alcohol to help alleviate everyday stress. Moreover, alcohol is so ingrained into every aspect of our lives that it has even made its way into playgroups and kids' birthday parties. What begins as a social activity can sometimes transform into a real problem.

So how do you know if you have crossed the line? If you have started to question yourself, you may have. If you find yourself making rules and setting limits on your drinking, you may have. If you can’t follow your rules or limits, you may have. Your primary care doctor or OB/GYN may be a good place to start. They have screening tools in which to help decipher healthy from unhealthy drinking patterns. From there you can come up with a plan in which to address the problem if there is one.

We here at the Coleman Institute for Addiction Medicine are available to help you answer some of these questions as well as to provide a safe and relatively comfortable detox process if you need that. Please call us at 877-773-3869 so we can answer any questions that you may have. Let’s find ways to relieve stress and live a happier and healthier life together. You owe it to your family, and most importantly to yourself.

Deborah Reich, M.D.