Back to School Sends Some Moms Back to the Bottle, Warns Promises Treatment Centers
“With busy schedules to juggle and the holidays right around the corner, back to school can be a stressful time for parents,” explained Dr. David Sack, CEO of Promises Treatment Centers. “For some, a need to escape or numb difficult emotions may lead to or exacerbate alcohol abuse. For those who have struggled with problem drinking in the past, this period of time may put them at increased risk for relapse.”
According to the addiction specialists at Promises, it is not uncommon for family members to minimize drinking behavior or dismiss binge drinking as isolated incidents.
“Ignoring signs of binge drinking or other drug abuse is potentially very dangerous. Women tend to hide their substance abuse well. And if they binge drink only occasionally, family members will often underestimate the riskiness of this behavior,” Dr. Sack said.
Many loved ones don’t know how to distinguish between recreational or social drinking and binge drinking that is a life-threatening problem. Unlike the alcoholic whose drinking is interfering with work and relationships, the binge drinker may only be impaired for several hours at a time, out of sight of family and friends. Women tend to be more secretive about their drinking, are more likely to binge drink and are more skilled at hiding their behaviors.
While some families and friends overlook a mother’s drinking problem – and some vehemently deny that a problem exists – the cost of doing so can be steep. Drunk driving rates have been increasing rapidly among women, and women are at higher risk than men for alcohol-related health complications, such as liver, brain and heart damage. According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, children of alcoholics are four times more likely to become alcoholics or addicts than other children.
Despite a growing awareness that addiction is a disease, there is still a stigma against alcohol abuse, especially in mothers. For this reason, it is critically important for loved ones to get involved. Few mothers with drinking problems reach out for help on their own, despite having much to lose, including their marriages, their children and their lives.
A healthy diet, exercise, quality sleep and a strong social support network are important protective factors during times of increased stress. Early intervention and treatment are essential for anyone who is struggling with alcohol abuse or addiction relapse.
“Mothers are vulnerable to addiction just as they would be to heart disease, diabetes or any other chronic disease,” said Dr. Sack. “Even though the behavior may be ‘hidden,’ high-functioning alcoholism endangers lives. Rather than judgment, moms need support and treatment.”