Did you know that women are more susceptible to alcohol addiction than men? All of the cutesy Wine o’Clock, Mommy’s Juice, memes that pop up on social media stop being so cute when you read that since 2000, among women in particular, high-risk drinking has increased 60 percent while alcohol use disorder or what is traditionally called alcoholism, has increased 84 percent.
That is a tremendous increase in problem drinking among women. Why is this happening? Why are women drinking themselves to addiction in record numbers? Many of the women who are becoming problem drinkers did not start out with a profile that suggested they were headed in that direction. Most of the women that I’ve been talking to over the past five years since I stopped drinking were highly functional in every way when they lost control of their alcohol intake.
I read this article a few years ago, Serotonin system in women’s brains is damaged more readily by alcohol than that in men’s brains, and it opened my eyes to some things that I didn’t understand when I was drinking. It was an article that helped me understand why women have a tendency to dive deeper, harder, and faster into addiction with the habitual wine o’clock routine than men. It also helped me understand why once we are addicted, trying to control the amount of alcohol that we drink is doubly difficult.
“Serotonin impacts every part of the body, from one’s motor skills to emotions, regulating one’s mood, social behavior, appetite, digestion, sleep, memory and sexual desire…. there (is) a significant decrease in the function of the serotonin system, which regulates impulse control and mood, in women’s brains after just four years of problem drinking,
It’s not just the cutesy wine o’clock memes that encourage this trend, but also the often bogus studies on the health benefits of drinking wine. Did you read the one about how a glass of red wine is worth an hour at the gym? I did. My best friend’s mom shared it with us on Facebook about 15 years ago. That happy message has been going around for a while. And like many other women, I figured that if one glass of red wine was good for burning fat, two were better, and two led to three or four. Then that amount started to make me feel guilty and depressed and the thing I turned to to feel better was… more wine. Not a healthy option at all when it becomes a bottle or more a night. But that message gets blurred as well.
Remeber the Wine Rack Sports Bra? How Women are Sold Addiction With a Laugh and a Smile
The Wine Purse? I Hid 3 Bottles of Wine in My Clothes and Nobody Noticed
Wine has been sold as benign, a health and beauty aide, and that sales pitch has worked. It does not surprise me that, since 1999, alcohol-related deaths among white women between the ages of 35 and 54 increased 130 percent.
Let’s re-boot with some fresh clean water.
This is health and beauty!
When I was young I was determined to prove that I could do everything the guys could do, including keeping up with them drink for drink at the bar. There were a lot of women in my Boomer generation who thought the same way and now, as we are centering in middle age Alcohol-Related Cirrhosis in Women has Spiked 50% in Less Than a Decade. Although I didn’t understand this at the time, keeping up with the guys on the binge drinking tally was a doubly bad idea.
The Wine o’Clock and Mommy’s Time Out marketing of the past 20 years has normalized women drinking habitually to de-stress. Many of us become problem drinkers before realizing that we are headed that way. People underestimate wine, they assume that it is somehow benign, that it should be more easily controlled than say whiskey or vodka. But once we start drinking routinely at that transition time of day between work, school, homework, dinner prep, and nightly chores, we start to feel that wine is the oil that keeps the wheels turning in our evening family routines.
We drink wine to relax and reboot but sadly, if we drink routinely, the addictive nature of alcohol causes us to begin to NEED wine to relax and reboot. As our tolerance increases we need more and more wine to get the same effect and what seemed like a normal routine, begins to take many of us to an increasingly darker place. A place that inspires dependency and a sort of low self-esteem that makes that dependency doubly difficult to break.
Many of us who are problem drinkers are lucky not to have to deal with cravings all day. The Pavlovian Dog reaction of our addicted brain usually doesn’t kick in until late afternoon or Wine o’Clock. When you decide to stop drinking how to you do Wine o’Clock without the wine? How do you handle the transition from work to relax, from the adult world to family time, without the dopamine and adrenaline that you’re used to getting from lifting a glass? ? How do you tackle the wine cravings at the end of the day when you stop drinking and are committed to staying sober?
Let’s make a pot of tea and chat – Rethink the Drink – Wine is not Benign
I’m almost 5 months sober but more and more often, I’m finding that at the end of my work day, all I want is a glass of wine. I’m really struggling. Especially today. The longer I’m away from alcohol, the harder I’m finding it to remind myself why I can’t have just one. It literally makes me want to cry sometimes. Especially today, when I’m tired, work was long, I’m mentally fatigued and my daughter won’t stop talking in my ear. The task of making dinner honestly feels like a mountain.
Members of Our Boom Community Answer
You have spent many years “treating” yourself, or “medicating” yourself with alcohol, and it takes at least one year to get past the point where this type of craving will pop up and nag at you now and then. These cravings roll like waves really. The waves come and go. They crest and fall.
If you keep choosing not to drink you will find that you are enjoying a calm sea more and more often. And eventually, life will feel like those calm sea times – naturally tranquil without the wine – but first you gotta ride those waves and find alternatives to drinking.
Related reading Ride the Wave in Early Sobriety
I found that long hot baths with Epsom salts really did the trick for me after days like that. I mean LOTS of Epsom salts – make it a long luxurious bath and it will melt the stress away. I started doing that pretty much every night and I remember laying on the bed wrapped in a towel one night in a state of total post-bath ahhhhhhhh thinking … wow it worked
Find alternatives when you are craving wine. Don’t set yourself up with too much unnecessary stress. Make staying alcohol free priority one for this first year and you will be rewarded with a lifetime of freedom.
Believe me that is worth it!
Related reading The Magic Trick
I stopped worrying about preparing meals during my early AF (alcohol-free) period whenever I felt drained like this. And it happened a lot. I was really achingly tired mentally and physically – like my body was saying this stress has to stop.
We had Pizza, beans on toast, scrambled eggs and smoked salmon on toast, take aways. I said sorry but you’re all going to have to take the weight off me for a while because I’m struggling at the moment with being the one relied on to feed you all.
Easy meals and do you know what ? – no one starved.
related reading Former Wine Mum’s Guide to Alcohol Free Serenity
This being the one relied on seems to be a pattern in many of us in the community . Maybe it’s us that are the ‘carers’ the ‘empathic’ ones with the caring natures – yet that makes us vulnerable and needing something to help us with all these thoughts in our head. Maybe that is a reason we drank?
I stopped feeling guilty – I had to stop feeling guilty for not wanting to be the reliable one that everyone drained. I’d made this role, I’m not sure how or why or when but I’d made it and when I stopped being the one everyone relied on they were shocked.
But once I did it the relief was huge.
This is just a faze, you’re body is tired. Listen to it and cut down on doing so much and being responsible for others just look after yourself and let others look after you.
I started doing what I wanted to do, I don’t mean I didn’t do anything. But I started doing what I wanted to do and no more. It was a complete change – it’s all totally justified. We have put ourselves in a position where we give ourselves the starring role in looking after others, and people were taking advantage and it was out of hand.
When you stop drinking it’s ok to put ourselves first for a while…it honestly is.
Shake up the ‘everyone’s relying on me.’
We’ve made that role ourselves, for ourselves – and only we can change things. And it’s ok to do that.
There’s nothing to miss about wine. It’s not even worth your thoughts. It’ll do nothing good for you. It’s doesn’t matter if it’s in an expensive looking bottle either. It never delivers what you think it will. A couple of glasses of wine with dinner may end up turning into 2 bottles and imagine your evening then 💙💗💙
Who says you need to make dinner? You’re allowed to rebuild your boundaries. If you’re not healthy because you’re pushing yourself too hard, how will that help? Order in!
❤️ how would you feel if you allow yourself to take care of yourself?
I found that, sometimes, I enjoyed really bad hangovers because it forced me to stop being a slave driver to myself, with unreasonable expectations. The hangover forced me to pamper myself. F*cking mental, but hangovers helped keep the cycle going and my safety in not admitting I was uncaring to myself. It was tough to admit I had a lot of work to do on my own perspectives on success and self care. For me at least, the first thing that fell to the ground were all the rules I set up for myself. And, in retrospect, thank god!
Marc lewis describes this as ego fatigue in his book The Biology of Desire. When you want the drink and your in essence just telling yourself “I wont do it”. My hope was to give up alcohol with a glad heart and I have. I white knuckled at times over first few months but it hasnt been a struggle since.
Perspective is everything❤❤
Eat and rest❤
At low points, I always like to revisit, or make a new list of the reasons I gave up drinking. The act of typing this list out always seems to help me snap out of funks.
No crappy day was made better by alcohol. Ever. I’ve tried that experiment so many times but the result is always the same (seems I’m a slow learner despite the conclusive evidence 🙄) Alcohol just puts the shit on hold, like a pause button, but it is still there, only magnified now by the anxiety, guilt and hangover. Focus on how you will feel in the morning knowing you didnt drink 😊
I just listened to this Bubble Hour podcast and the hostess, Jean, said something that really resonated with me:
when we stop drinking, our mind thinks we are punishing ourselves and that it’s not fair….
here it the podcast if you want to quiet that voice:
I hope you can get a takeaway. I suggest that you always, always have ready meals in the freezer for these times. That’s how we coped as working parents. Batch cooking or ready meals, or omelettes/pizza. Make it easy for you – and lots of fruit cordial for the two of you. Times are hard right now, so make the home things easy as possible….. <3
There is still beauty in things that seem broken
There is joy in gentle words spoken
There is power when your spirit is awoken
And you refuse to give up giving up
Putting your broken pieces back together again
With blood, sweat, tears and pain
That’s self love
And you’re so strong enough
more poetry by Floss Here
More Reading – Happy Chemical Jumpstart #3 SEROTONIN
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Don’t let the shame of the stigma keep you from saying
“I think I have a problem with drinking”
How do you go Sober? ( more reading in blue titles)
B Be accountable Talk to Us We Understand
A Avoid alcohol like the plague Ideas Here
L Let yourself enjoy regular sober treats Ideas Here
A Allow yourself to cry when needed Ideas Here
N Nourish your body with good food Ideas Here
C Create happy & fun memories Ideas Here
E Enjoy the precious moments in your day Ideas Here
W Work hard to get what you want Ideas Here
O Organise things for less stress Ideas Here
R Realise you can’t control it all Ideas Here
K Keep going & prepare for success Ideas Here
S Sleep enough for body & mind rest Sleep Solutions