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When ‘wine mum’ culture becomes a problem

05 September 2022

Mental health Perinatal mental health Community services Womens health
Consumption of alcohol by women aged 36-65 is on the rise. Kate Mackay of Perth’s St John of God’s Drug and Alcohol Withdrawal Network (DAWN) takes a look at ‘wine mum’ culture and what to do if you want to address the role of alcohol in your life.
While research shows there is generally a global decline in alcohol consumption, for women aged between 36 and 65 alcohol consumption is on the rise, especially over the past few years as the world has been grappling with the disruptions of COVID.

Reasons for the upward trend are still being explored in research, but some papers have suggested that beliefs around motherhood and gendered division of domestic labour play a large role in unhealthy drinking habits of women. 

Drinking to escape

Research suggests that when women drink to excess, it can often be to escape the pressures of juggling jobs and the considerable demands of family life. Women who find themselves habitually drinking heavily might use alcohol as a reward following a hectic day of parenting, managing the household and/or juggling work demands.

The rise of ‘wine mum’ culture seems to have exacerbated this issue, with social media amplifying humorous memes of women, particularly mums, turning to alcohol as a coping mechanism in response to the demands of life and motherhood. 

Social media and drinking culture

There are hundreds of social media pages dedicated to encourage drinking among mothers. It is my impression women create bonds through the sharing of these memes, but unfortunately they can also normalise drinking alcohol as a coping mechanism.

Memes that promote alcohol as a quick fix to the stressors of motherhood increased substantially during COVID lockdowns, at a time when research shows women were more likely to take on the responsibility of homeschooling in addition to working, compared with men. 

Effects on women’s health

The current guidelines on alcohol consumption from the Australian Government Department of Health recommend healthy women should drink no more than 10 standard drinks per week and no more than four standard drinks on any day. 

Women who drink more than this have increased risk of serious health conditions, including breast cancer. It is worth noting that many drinks have more than one standard drink in them, so can add up very quickly.

The alternatives

By finding alternative ways to de-stress and bond with friends, anyone who finds themselves in similar circumstances can prevent excessive drinking from having a negative impact on their health.

Making practical changes, such as carving out time to relax, enjoying time with friends doing other activities like going for a walk or meeting up for a coffee, and talking to their partners about shared responsibilities, can help women feel supported in other ways and reduce the role alcohol has in their lives. 

Anyone who is worried about their drinking habits can speak to their GP who will be able to advise on support available. 
Kate Mackay
Kate Mackay - Clinical Nurse Specialist
Kate Mackay is a Clinical Nurse Specialist with St John of God’s Drug and Alcohol Withdrawal Network (DAWN) who assists people to reduce or stop their alcohol or drug use at home. DAWN is a free and confidential withdrawal service available to people living in WA.