Parental Binge Drinking and Wine Culture

With the pandemic compounding the pressures of parenthood, it’s no surprise many moms turn to wine culture. But is wine mom culture as harmless as they say? 

Table of Contents

Alcoholism vs. Alcohol Use Disorder

For the first time, the 2019 National Survey of Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) found that women were drinking and getting drunk at higher rates than men.1 While more women drinking by itself is not an issue, the glamorization of parental binge drinking increases the risk of side effects, dependence, and alcohol addiction, and this drinking ripples out to impact children and loved ones.

Often, we hear the two terms – alcoholism and alcohol use disorder (AUD) used interchangeably. A quick Google search to find statistics on alcoholism quickly turns up scores of pages on alcohol use disorder. According to the 2019 NSDUH, 14.5 million people ages twelve and up struggle with alcohol use disorder.2 However, is there a difference between alcoholism and alcohol use disorder? Where do binge drinking and “problem drinking” fall into the frame? 

Is There a Difference Between the Two?

The core difference between AUD and alcoholism lies in clinical use.

Alcoholism is a catch-all phrase for everything considered “problem drinking.” It is a phrase commonly used in Alcoholics Anonymous and casual conversation, though you’re unlikely to hear it in medical settings. Alcoholism could look like binge drinking, daily drinking, drinking that impacts our ability to function, and it could indeed look like an alcohol use disorder.

Alcohol use disorder – also called alcohol addiction – is a clinical term classified under the Diagnostics and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V) with criteria to help care providers accurately assess whether someone suffers from an alcohol problem and to what degree. To receive a diagnosis of AUD, you must have experienced at least two of the eleven symptoms associated with AUD.

Criteria of AUD

You may meet the criteria for AUD if in the past twelve months you:

  • Had occasions where you drank more or longer than intended.
  • Dedicate a lot of your time to drinking or dealing with side effects.
  • Attempted to lessen or stop drinking on multiple occasions but could not.
  • Wanted to drink so badly you were unable to think about anything else.
  • Found your drinking habits interfered with life (work, relationships, family).
  • Continued drinking even while experiencing consequences in relationships.
  • Reduced time spent on previously enjoyed activities in favor of drinking.
  • Found yourself in situations during or after drinking that increase the potential for injury more than once.
  • Continued drinking even with diminished enjoyment, increased anxiety, depression, memory blackouts, or other health problems as a result.
  • Experienced withdrawal symptoms when you go without alcohol for too long.
  • Found you need to drink more to achieve the same effects you previously felt.

The severity of alcohol addiction depends on the number of symptoms:

  • Mild AUD: 2-3 symptoms
  • Moderate AUD: 4-5 symptoms
  • Severe AUD: 6+ symptoms

Binge Drinking

The 2019 NSDUH report found binge drinking to be on the rise, with 25.8% of people over eighteen years old reporting they engaged in heavy binge drinking in the past twelve months. Additional research suggests that compared to those who do not binge drink, people who drank at twice the gender-specific binge drinking thresholds were 70% more likely to experience an emergency room visit relating to alcohol.

Causes of Alcohol Use Disorder and Alcoholism

The most significant factors contributing to habitual alcohol misuse include how much, how often, and how quickly an individual drinks. Consistent and repeated exposure can swiftly build a psychological dependence that leads someone to reach for the bottle over and over again.

Binge drinking, heavy alcohol use, and other types of problem drinking also increase the risk of developing alcohol addiction or alcoholism.

Other factors that point towards AUD include:

  • Pre-existing mental health conditions (disorders like PTSD, depression, ADHD, and more are directly associated with higher rates of AUD)
  • A history of trauma and ACEs (adverse childhood experiences)
  • Genetics and family history. The hereditary potential is about 60%, but just as impactful is the experience of growing up around alcohol misuse.
  • Drinking before the age of fifteen, which people who do have five times the risk of developing AUD compared to people who began drinking at twenty-one. This risk increases for women.

Signs and Symptoms of Alcohol Abuse

Early Alcohol Abuse Signs

Typically, the early signs of alcohol abuse will feature two of the criteria for AUD. Additional indicators that point to alcohol misuse could include:
  • Experiencing irritability or extreme mood swings
  • Feeling hungover or experiencing withdrawal when not drinking
  • Becoming secretive about drinking habits
  • Growing distant from friends and loved ones
  • Experiencing memory blackouts
  • Prioritizing drinking over other responsibilities
  • Making excuses to continue drinking even when there are adverse effects

Severe Alcohol Abuse Signs

The long-term impact of severe alcohol abuse often includes an array of physical and psychological side effects. These effects can include:
  • Digestive issues
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Heightened risk of heart failure or stroke
  • Heightened risk of liver disease
  • Development of nystagmus (involuntary eye movement)
  • Osteoporosis and increased risk of bone fractures
  • Weakened immune system
  • Impaired cognitive functioning
  • Increased risk of cancer
  • Heightened risk of adverse effects from drug or substance interactions

What is Wine Mom Culture?

Wine mom culture refers to the growing movement that supports, celebrates, and often glamorizes alcohol use to cope with daily life. Many moms find themselves stressed and overwhelmed by responsibilities and the need to keep up appearances. Wine mom culture embraces alcohol as a well-deserved method of rewarding yourself and unwinding after a long day.  

How Can You Tell if You’re a “Wine Mom?”

It can be difficult to spot when a fun, stress-relieving activity develops into a dependence. Wine moms may engage in heavy drinking (more than four drinks over two hours), disguise alcohol in other drinks, and drink during nap time or when kids are on playdates. 

If you find yourself drinking more than you intend, experiencing withdrawal symptoms when you stop drinking, find you need more alcohol to achieve intoxication, and are falling through on responsibilities due to alcohol use, you may have shifted from wine culture to dependence. 

Dangers of Wine Mom Culture

While a few glasses of wine now and again will not hurt, repeated bouts of drinking can preempt substance abuse and mental health issues. 

Substance Abuse

Wine moms who engage in binge drinking, defined as four or more drinks in one sitting at least once over two weeks, put themselves at higher risk for developing a substance use disorder.  

Mental Health

Moms who embrace wine culture often find it is a quick road to connecting and bonding with peers who are similarly looking for ways to relax. Unfortunately, this mindset can quickly lead to a dependence on alcohol to feel more connected to fellow wine moms. 

Effects of Parental Binge Drinking on Children

The impact mom wine culture can have on children depends on the individual. However, parental binge drinking can have serious ramifications for children growing up.

Psychological and Emotional Effects

Mom wine culture typically frames drinking for moms as a well-deserved stress-reliever for coping with daily stressors and kids. However, the impact it has on kids could be a parent who is less engaged and frames childcare as something stressful that requires alcohol. While all parents know the stress of raising children, framing things this way can tell kids they are a burden and that it’s their fault their parents are not as engaged in their lives. 

Trust Issues

Parents often try to hide drinking habits from their kids, leading to secrecy, lying, and denial that can contribute to lifelong trust issues. Trust issues can also contribute to low self-esteem, where children feel they are not good enough to warrant their parent’s trust or attention. 

Personality Disorders

Children who grow up with parents that engage in binge drinking are more likely to experience substance use disorders and struggles with mental health in the future. Growing up with an alcoholic parent can create instability at home, where rules are always changing and children do not know how to satisfy their parents. Over time, it can contribute to numerous personality disorders. 

Drinking to Cope with the COVID-19 Pandemic and Problem Drinking

Research conducted by the RAND Corp. found that between the spring of 2019 and spring of 2020 at the pandemic’s beginning, women’s rate of binge drinking increased by 41%.5 With children and parents sharing the same space for most of the quarantine, the likelihood of children picking up on and receiving the impact of parental drinking habits is considerable.

Treatment for Alcohol Abuse

If you find yourself struggling with problematic drinking habits you would like to get a handle on, there are many pathways available to you. 

Behavioral Therapy

Behavioral therapy for alcohol treatment typically includes cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT is a talk therapy that seeks to empower people to recognize the patterns of their thoughts to influence what people feel and change their behavior and habits. 

Counseling

Certain counseling techniques, like motivational interviewing, can prove beneficial for helping people boost their internal motivation through recovery. Motivational interviewing works by exploring and clearing away beliefs and ambivalence that are holding you back. 

Treating Underlying Problems

When considering alcohol treatment, it is essential to explore the other factors that could interfere or impact your treatment plan. For example, mental health issues or other substance use disorders can complicate treatment and should be discussed with care providers. 

Support Groups

Support groups are staples of alcohol addiction treatment. Groups like Alcoholics Anonymous, SMART Recovery, and Secular Organizations for Sobriety offer dependable support systems to help people explore their goals with a community of people who understand your experience. 

Detox

Alcohol treatment typically begins with detox, which centers on removing all traces of alcohol from the body. For alcohol treatment, individuals must seek medical support as they attempt withdrawal, as alcohol withdrawal can prompt life-threatening side effects such as hallucinations, seizures, and delirium tremens. 

Medication-Assisted Treatment

The FDA has approved three medications to assist with alcohol addiction: naltrexone, acamprosate, and disulfiram. Acamprosate helps decrease cravings and alleviate withdrawal symptoms. Disulfiram also reduces cravings but does so by causing unpleasant symptoms like nausea and headaches when alcohol is consumed while using disulfiram. Naltrexone reduces the euphoric effects that accompany drinking, making the prospect of drinking less attractive. 

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Gina Bowman

Executive Assistant

Gina Bowman is the Executive Assistant at Brooks Healing Center. She was born in Florida but resides in Murfreesboro, Tennessee with her husband, Tyler Bowman, and two daughters Charlotte and Isabella.

Gina is a friendly, loyal, and dedicated individual. She has a heart for helping others and understands the effects of addiction and the toll it can take on families. She is the one that helps make things happen behind the scenes and brings fun ideas to Brooks Healing Center as well as keeping things organized. 

Colleen Bradford, MBA, BA-MHR

Executive Director, Human Resources Director

Colleen Believes servitude towards others provides a solid foundation for personal and professional growth. She is a calm problem solver who juggles multiple situations simultaneously and works confidently and efficiently in even the most challenging, fast-paced environments. She is highly regarded for her consistent ability to apply sound judgment, emotional intelligence, and etiquette to sensitive, confidential, and unpredictable situations. She is an organized, professional, resourceful, and seasoned healthcare professional with diverse skills for boosting organizational productivity and quality of care initiatives.

Colleen has a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in business administration with a minor in health care administration from Trevecca Nazarene University. She has been married for 32 years to Doyle Bradford, and they have two sons, Thomas and Allen Bradford, along with two grandchildren, Ben and Faith Bradford. She is excited to have this unique opportunity to serve her community. She is a phenomenal cookie baker and mother figure to those at the Brooks Healing Center. We are honored to have her be a part of our vision. 

Frank Throneberry

Co-Founder and COO

Frank is a lifelong 7th generation native of Middle Tennessee. Frank cares for his local community and keeping Tennessee healthy, knowing that people all over the USA seek out his home state’s friendly and outdoor atmosphere. He is a hardworking and energetic person that is no stranger to going out of his way to help others.

Frank started his recovery from alcohol and substance abuse over seven years ago. He is continually working on a recovery program and became passionate about sharing his story, helping others, and supporting others to find freedom from their addiction. He also formerly owned and managed ‘recovery community’ homes where he walked with and encouraged many individuals in their journey. Frank’s servant attitude is what helps him listen, understand, and put others’ needs first.

Outside of his career, Frank cherishes his time with his wife, Maribeth, and his three children: Jackson, Piper, and Charlie. They enjoy the great outdoors on their family farm in Shelbyville, TN, and boating and fishing with family on Tim’s Ford Lake. He is a dedicated husband and father. 

James “Tyler” Bowman

Founder and CEO

Tyler is the heart of the Brooks Healing Center. His vision is to guide others to find their own recovery and to thrive in life. Tyler was fortunate to have lived through his addiction and now finds fulfillment in serving others. Tyler has worked in the substance abuse field for over five years and felt convicted to build a place where individuals are loved until they can learn to love themselves.  

Tyler has the love and support of his family as he continues to provide care to those who have lost themselves along the way. Tyler is the father of two daughters, Charlotte, his oldest, and Isabella, his youngest. Tyler’s wife, Gina, supports the Brooks Healing Center’s vision, and she shares his passion for helping others as well.  

Tyler has a story to tell and is willing to share his experiences, good or bad, with anyone. Brooks Healing Center is the way he gives back for all he took when he was using. For the past seven years, Tyler has gone beyond to share his recovery and is thriving in life.