Has the “Mummy Juice” Culture Normalised Alcoholism for Women?

For working mothers, having a glass of wine or two at the end of the day is not only seen as a valid lifestyle choice but celebrated and encouraged on social media as a social norm. The pressure to indulge in alcohol is sometimes as prevalent at afternoon birthday parties as it is at evening work function. Mothers are targeted by marketers with wine-focused products while social media suggests that wine is a reward for a busy day coping with children.
Mid adult Caucasian male and female hands toasting wine glasses.

Most women do limit their alcohol intake to acceptable limits, however for some women in the 30-50 age group, problems arise when one or two glasses becomes one or two bottles or becomes a regular form of self-medication rather than a way to wind down at the end of the day. Such women are often overlooked in the dialogue about binge-drinking and alcohol-related issues which typically focuses on young people.

While self-help programs like Alcoholics Anonymous remain popular and useful, they can be difficult to attend with true anonymity in a rural or regional town and difficult for working mothers to commit to while also meeting the demands of raising a family. Likewise drug and alcohol rehab programs, while effective, are often not a feasible option for women with caring responsibilities. According to the National Institute for Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, around 5.3 million American women have an alcohol use disorder. In the US, sobriety coaches or sober companions have transitioned from being Hollywood therapists to mainstream suburbia to help mothers cope with their addictions. Such recovery therapists are now becoming more familiar in Australia, in the interim an increasing number of women are seeking help from health professionals to reduce the amount of alcohol they are consuming at home.

Women who are concerned they may have a drinking problem sometimes seek help for stress, anxiety or depression before admitting to their struggles with alcohol and many women are unaware of how their alcohol consumption can impact their health. Therapists and counsellors who assist women with reducing their alcohol consumption often see women who have transitioned to alcohol from a medication initially prescribed to help with pain or depression. Some are experiencing trauma from the death of a loved one or loss of identity through loss of career, and some just feel isolated. Genetic and physiological factors can be a factor in some women being unable to control their drinking. Consequently, reducing alcohol addiction can sometimes require a multi-disciplinary approach and GP-led detox programs may include referrals to an exercise physiologist, dietician, alcohol counsellor, and a psychologist.

A number of recovered alcoholics and health professionals are calling for a change in the narrative around mothers drinking, for women to be taught healthy coping strategies, and for GPs to be given more resources to help support the thousands of Australian women drinking at risky levels.