RELAXING WITH A COCKTAIL IN RESPONSE TO A STRESSFUL DAY MAY SEEM LIKE NO BIG DEAL, BUT KNOWING HOW MUCH ALCOHOL IS TOO MUCH FOR YOU IS IMPORTANT.
IN THE AGE of social media, it is not unusual to see online comments about moms needing a drink during the day. But the cute, carefree captions run the risk of normalizing the habit of drinking to manage stress—a concept that can be quite dangerous for women as they work to raise their families and manage their lives.
“There has been a long-standing association between stress and alcohol, however alcohol itself causes stress on the body and compounds the effects of overall stress,” says Prevea Health certified nurse midwife, Karen Johnson, MSN, APNP, FNP-C. “As stated by the National Institute on
Alcohol Abuse & Alcoholism, no amount of drinking is 100 percent safe for every woman 100 percent of the time. Finding other methods of managing stress is critical.”
THE RISK FACTOR
According to Johnson, women’s bodies are more susceptible to alcohol-related complications. Specifically, women are more likely than men to develop alcoholic hepatitis, to die from cirrhosis, or to experience alcohol-induced brain damage.
Additionally, women who drink increase their likelihood of developing breast cancer and heart disease. And pregnant women who indulge in alcohol put their babies at risk for birth defects, fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, and premature birth.
WHEN ENOUGH IS ENOUGH
Signs that drinking has become too ingrained in a woman’s daily life include:
• Drinking earlier in the day
• Drinking when alone
• Feeling a physical need to drink
• Hiding drinking habits from others
“Women who have developed an unhealthy relationship with alcohol may be the first to recommend going to happy hour,” Johnson says. “For these ladies, consulting a healthcare provider and finding other ways to relax and manage stress is essential.
If you or someone you know is seeking support to manage alcohol intake, contact the L.E. Phillips–Libertas Treatment Center at 715.723.5585.
From One Mom to Another
Being a mom is no easy feat. The job is filled with unpredictable challenges and countless situations that simply cannot be controlled no matter how much effort and planning you invest. But if you are raising kids, remember you are not the first to face these adventures, and you don’t have to go through it alone.
If you are considering turning
to alcohol to take the edge off, try leaning on other moms for support and advice instead.
“Moms typically take on a million responsibilities caring for families, friends, and careers, and life can sometimes get overwhelming,” says Erin Hunt, mom and RN, BSN with HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital. “Some moms may try to manage the stress with a glass of wine each night, but over time one drink may turn into many more to get the same effect. That is why finding alternative coping mechanisms is so important.”
Exercise, meditation, yoga, and talking with family and friends can be powerful alternatives to a daily drink.