MIAMI (CBS4) – Raising children is tough, but it’s even tougher when mom turns to the bottle to cope. It’s a growing problem some moms are reluctant to talk about, but one mother of four agreed to explain to CBS4’s Shannon Hori why stress has, literally, driven her to drink.
“I don’t remember Christmases. Or birthdays. Especially towards the end,” she told Hori. She agreed to speak as long as her identity was kept secret.
She said at the peak of her drinking she was having two bottles of champagne and working on finishing the third, even though she worked a 10-hour day and cared for her children
“Rationalization started,” she said. “Work, kids, I have a demanding job. I have husband, we have a social life. I restrict myself on so many other things. Of course, why not (have a drink).”
Her husband gave her an ultimatum: give up drinking or face a divorce.
The news is full of tragic stories involving moms and alcohol.
–A New York woman drove the wrong way on a highway and killed herself, her daughter, three nieces, and three men in another vehicle.
–Cooper City’s Brenda Lee Duclos was found passed out behind the wheel of her running minivan, while her two toddlers wandered about a mile away.
Moms who drink also drive, and the FBI said that while the majority of drunk drivers are still men, the number of drunk driving mothers is growing. The number of women arrested for DUI’s in the past decade has increased by nearly 30 percent. Of the 15 million alcoholics in the United States, nearly 1/3 are women.
The growing problem has given rise to chat-rooms, like the Booze Free Brigade, where mothers struggling with alcohol can get help with their addictions. That chat-room was started by Stefanie Wilder-Taylor, the author of “Naptime Is the New Happy Hour” and “Sippy Cups Are Not for Chardonnay.”
She knows the problem first hand.
“All the things that accompany taking care of a young baby, I felt alcohol was an important part of that day, to be honest,” Wilder-Taylor said.
She realized that she needed help when her twins were about a year and a half old, and she woke up not remembering what had happened the night before. She got help, and now has a new book, “I’m Kind of a Big Deal.” in which she tells the story of her struggles with motherhood and alcohol.
Wilder-Taylor believes many other mothers are having problems using alcohol to cope..
“I know it is,” she said. “Once I came out with what was going on with me, tt was like an avalanche.”
“They’re ashamed of this addiction they have. They live in solitude. Them and the alcohol,” said Dr. Patricia Junquera of The University of Miami. She said women tend to suffer in silence, but when they do speak, the two words she hears over and over again are shame and guilt. She believes most women are afraid of seeking help because they don’t want to be perceived as a bad mother.
“A lot of them (mothers) suffer in silence,” she said. “Their drinking tends to snowball because they’re not getting help.”
The mom who shared her story with Hori now says she is recovering, after getting help.
She says her biggest champion is her son.
“Just a few weeks ago he says, ‘I am so proud of you’,” she said. “I am so proud of you.”