#MommyNeedsWine: Growing trend shows more women are dependent on alcohol

A lot of moms joke around about drinking wine to cope with those whining kid moments but the...
A lot of moms joke around about drinking wine to cope with those whining kid moments but the truth is women are consuming more alcohol more frequently than ever before and that's a problem. (KWQC)(KWQC)
Published: Sep. 24, 2019 at 3:57 PM CDT
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A lot of moms joke around about drinking wine to cope with those whining kid moments but the truth is women are consuming more alcohol more frequently than ever before and that's a problem.

According to the National Institutes of Health, the amount of women in the U.S. with an alcohol use disorder has increased by nearly 84 percent in recent years.

So why is it happening? Well, there' a shift in culture and it's amplified by social media.

Like yoga pants, lattes and minivans; making jokes about moms drinking wine is a cliche.

You've seen the funny anecdotes on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram; "mommy's sippy cup", letter boards next to a bottle of wine using the kids as an excuse to pop it open and memes that say things like 'a bottle of wine fixes everything'.

But some moms actually feel like they need alcohol to deal with motherhood.

Michelle is married with three kids. She's also in recovery.

While she's proud of that TV6 is protecting her family's privacy and keeping her anonymous.

"I'm very ashamed of some of the things that I did," Michelle tells TV6. "I was looking for any excuse to justify the sickness and the addiction that I was struggling with but seeing it normalized it made me feel like, 'see, I'm okay'."

Social media is inundated with the Mommy Needs Wine culture and it's spilling out into real life.

Karen Relf is the program director at the Abbey, a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center in Bettendorf.

"Had a rough day, go home, have a drink, feel better," Relf said. "Next day the whole cycle starts over again."

We've heard it referred to lightheartedly as a "time out" just for mom but the CDC defines excessive drinking as either binge drinking or heavy drinking.

Women who are binge drinking are having four or more drinks during a single occasion. Heavy drinkers are having eight or more drinks a week.

You can see how a glass of wine after every rough day at work or too many tantrums can quickly become a dependency.

"When someone is looking at alcohol as a reward of some type, it's numbing the system," Relf said.

Like most moms who drink, Michelle was looking for that relief.

"It was just a vicious, ugly cycle," Michelle said. "I had gotten to the place where I was secretly drinking almost daily and was trying to hide it from everyone."

She says she would go to different liquor stores every day to avoid judgment from the cashier. She would hide her wine bottles, waiting to throw them out at various places.

"I would never dispose of the bottle in my house," Michelle said.

She switched from wine to vodka over time.

"I had no idea how drunk I was going to get and where I would end up and what I would do," Michelle said.

This mom's life revolved around her next drink.

"It got really bad I was constantly putting myself and others at risk," Michelle said. "I was getting behind the wheel of cars, drinking and driving. I was neglecting my children."

But she remembers the last sip she ever took.

"I ended up wrecking my car, crashing it into a telephone pole, into some of my neighbor's yard. You know, their children were out playing in that yard," Michelle said.

"For some people, that awareness is that little wake-up call, so to speak, is the one catalyst that will help them change their lifestyle," Relf said.

Michelle checked into the Abbey and got what she calls "real help."

She also believes people should publicly celebrate sobriety just as often as they celebrate happy hour.

"I think it's just as important to talk about the folks that are truly struggling," Michelle said. "I feel like that's something that's still kept in the dark."

TV6 is focusing on women because women are more likely than men to have a variety of alcohol-related health effects including; liver inflammation, cardiovascular disease and cancer.

Resources for those wanting more information on female alcohol use disorder in the United States:

Female alcohol use disorder in the United States increased by 83.7 percent in 2002 and 2013 according to a 2017 study sponsored by the

The Abbey Addiction Treatment Center:

You can find more information at

There's a substance abuse helpline:

SAMHSA’s National Helpline

1-800-662-HELP (4357)

SAMHSA’s National Helpline is a free, confidential, 24/7, 365-day-a-year treatment referral and information service (in English and Spanish) for individuals and families facing mental and/or substance use disorders.