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 escapeResearch 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 cultureThere 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 healthThe 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 alternativesBy 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.