Do stay-at-home moms have it easier? Not necessarily. While being a stay-at-home parent might mean that you have more time to do quality parenting, current data seems to show that it puts you at a greater risk of developing alcohol use disorder (AUD). According to Dallas Drug Treatment Centers, a directory of North Texas drug and alcohol rehabs, inquiries for stay-at-home parents have risen steadily over the years.
How Many Moms are Drinking?
While it’s hard to find definitive data specific to just American stay-at-home moms and alcohol consumption, we can be fairly certain that a significant proportion of American moms are regular drinkers.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, half of all American women of childbearing age drink. Additionally, 18% of women in this group binge drink, defined for women as consuming four standard alcoholic drink equivalents (one glass of wine or beer or one shot of whiskey) in less than two hours.
It’s believed that 1 in 8 women binge drink at least 3 times a month, consuming around 6 drinks each session. Female teens and young adults are also slightly more likely than their male counterparts to engage in this drinking behavior.
Additionally, there is growing evidence that parents with children living at home are more likely to drink. A 2014 survey even found that a third of respondents knew a mother who had problems with alcohol.
Evidence suggests that stay-at-home parents are more likely to drink than either parents who work away from home or childless married people who stay at home. Most parents, especially of younger children, reported elevated stress and anxiety levels when they’re at home, which tends to drive substance misuse.
Why it May Be a Bigger Problem Than You Think
While it might seem like a good time, binge drinking is an especially dangerous behavior that could directly endanger others, including your own children. It could also be indicative of other more serious problems, including alcohol use disorder.
What’s more, frequent binge drinking by parents may affect their relationship with their children. It may also lead children in the household to have a distorted idea of the benefits alcohol, which in turn could make it more likely they will also develop an alcohol use disorder.
Reasons Stay-at-home Moms Binge Drink
Moms that engage in habitual binge drinking tend to do so for a few key reasons.
Being a full-time homemaker can be much more stressful than people who haven’t done it might expect. The rise in US wine consumption in the past few decades may have much to do with a trend of “wine moms” rewarding themselves after a hard day of dealing with their children.
There may be something to this, as parental alcohol consumption for both moms and dads rose precipitously during the COVID pandemic. With more parents forced to be in close proximity with their kids for longer due to social distancing, many are turning to alcohol to calm their nerves.
The feeling of being trapped and the lack of serious intellectual stimulation can easily cause a highly-educated stay-at-home mom to seek solace in a bottle.
College-educated women are far more likely to develop an alcohol use disorder compared to their non-college peers. This risk is especially heightened for stay-at-home parents who are also full-time homemakers. Alcohol use disorder is a common issue in smarter people who lack intellectual stimulation.
Most people are more likely to engage in behavior that others see as problematic if they think no one can see them. Unlike most people working outside, stay-at-home parents usually get to dictate when they get their “me time”. This affords stay-at-home moms more opportunities for drinking compared to, for instance, a parent who has to juggle two regular jobs.
4.) Underlying Psychiatric Disorders
Alcohol use disorders are often accompanied by some other mental health condition. Many moms are simply too busy to take care of their own mental health, which may lead to a slow deterioration of their emotional resilience. This, in turn, could lead to them turning to alcohol and other substances as a way of coping.
Additionally, moms face a unique risk in postpartum psychiatric disorders. Postpartum depression is a particularly common issue for mothers who had just given birth. However, it should be noted postpartum mental illnesses can strike any time after the birth of a child.
5.) Sleep Disorders
Crying infants and other trials of parenthood can be enough to keep anyone up at night. Many mothers then turn to alcohol as a way of winding down and helping them sleep. Unfortunately, regularly turning to alcohol for sleep is one of the major causes of alcohol use disorders.
Binge drinking is a much more common problem among stay-at-home parents than we might expect. This prevalence underlines the importance of sharing childrearing responsibilities and taking care of one’s mental health. Alcohol is only a temporary solution — if you can even call it that.
Fortunately, recovery from alcohol use disorder is always possible. If you think you or someone you know has a problem with binge drinking, make sure to get professional help immediately.