When “Wine-O-Clock” Hides An Addiction



We’ve all seen the wine-o-clock memes on Facebook. They say things like, “It’s been one of those weeks…pass the wine” with an impressively large wine glass. Or perhaps they say, “If you combine wine and dinner, the new word is winner.” I’m pretty sure I shared a few that complained about pregnancy being an involuntary abstinence-fest for nine months.

This is all part of a longstanding joke that “mommy juice” is needed to help offset the chaos that is raising humans. And I buy into that mindset just like everyone else. I look forward to my glass of wine after the kids go to bed when it’s just myself and my husband and uninterrupted TV time (or phone time, whichever is more convenient). I also partake in “book club” which is really just “wine club” where a book may or not be talked about. And I’m pretty sure that most mommy’s night out events involve alcohol to some degree.

Social media enhances this mentality with images and phrases that give credit to the growing movement that wine goes with motherhood like peanut butter goes with jelly. We have all probably bought into a culture that normalizes drinking as an acceptable coping strategy.


But what if that’s not the case for some moms?


Many moms may have an underlying addiction potential thanks to genetics and a family history. So the proliferation of “wine culture” makes it hard to stay in a healthy range with regard to drinking behaviors. And other moms may become too reliant upon wine to de-stress from a long day of parenting, so they have to drink more and more to get the same results. This is how addictions can develop over time.

If I’m being totally honest, I have seen my own wine use go from “a glass a few nights a week” to “a glass most nights out of the week.” And I was alarmed by how easy it was to reach for the bottle out of sheer habit. I have made a conscious effort to reduce my wine drinking to the weekends only, and I was saddened by how challenging it was to stick to that plan. I didn’t yearn for wine during the day or drink to the point of getting tipsy or drunk, so I assumed that I was fine. But really, the fact that I found it pretty hard to make this rule and stick to it meant that I was probably a step away from a dependency problem.


And that is so scary to realize.


I’m sure many other moms don’t realize that they may be drinking more and more because the culture literally encourages that pattern. We laugh at the huge “mommy’s sippy cup” wine glasses and we get them for friends at parties. We encourage each other to partake in drinking as a social lubricant, and we accuse those who choose not to drink of being pregnant rather than simply not being interested.

These patterns can create a slippery slope towards dependency and addiction concerns without anyone ever noticing. That is what is so scary. We can’t tell anymore what are healthy and unhealthy drinking patterns because the lines are so incredibly blurry.


To work through this concern, it is a good idea to do a mental check-in.


Ask yourself how your use pattern has changed since having kids:

Do you use wine as your primary coping strategy, or is your coping skills bag filled with more options that you can rotate through?

Are you drinking on more nights than not?

Are you drinking during the day?

What would happen if you cut your use by a third or even half? Would you feel the effects physically or psychologically? If so, it may be a good idea to take a hiatus for a little while and let your body reset.


It is also never a good idea to have just one coping strategy in your bag of tricks, no matter what it may be.


If you do, you can easily exhaust it, and you will find that you need more of it to have the same stress relieving effects. So you definitely need to diversify your coping portfolio to include non-alcoholic options.


Some great examples are:

  • Craft projects
  • Hobbies
  • Doing your nails
  • Listening to soothing music
  • Exercising
  • Talking to a friend on a regular basis
  • Watching a favorite TV show or movie
  • Meditation
  • Yoga
  • Mindfulness exercises


It is completely ok to have wine in the rotation, though. Just make sure it is actually being rotated with other options so that you don’t become reliant upon it. And if you are worried that your use is problematic or if it causes negative consequences in your life, there are therapists out there who can talk you through your concerns and help you through them.


Overall, alcohol can have a part in your life, but it can’t have the whole show.


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Megan Phillips is a licensed clinical psychologist who owns a private practice that specializes in helping women and moms in Orange County (www.cottonwoodpsychologycenter.com). She is from the Pacific Northwest, but she and her husband decided to escape the rain and move to warm, sunny Southern California in 2012. Since then, she became a mom to a smart and funny little boy and an adorable baby girl. Megan enjoys cooking and taking in the local sights, and she is always up for a fun mommy’s night out.