Alcoholism Is No Joke...Unless You're a Mother

The double standard we're all guilty of perpetuating.

Picture this: You're walking down the street, it's three in the afternoon, and you pass a man who's not dressed too sharp, he looks like he could do with a shave and shower, and the stench of alcohol assaults your nostrils with vigour. You turn to your friend, wrinkle your nose in disgust, and watch as he pulls a can of Carlsberg Special Brew from his pocket and cracks it open. You stare in judgement; "Can you believe it? It's not even five o'clock yet!" Then you turn away, keep on walking, and forget about your brief stint as a self-made Judge. We've all done it. 

But the same judgement, the same look of disgust, is not applied to Wine Moms. You know who I mean, the one who posts a photo of a generous glass of red on her Facebook with the caption "Oops, look what fell into my hand! Must be five o'clock somewhere though haha". Her friends laugh along, the comment section rife with "You bad girl Carol!" and "I'm going to need one myself, to get through this meeting!" - they're Wine Moms. Loud and proud, these gals make a point of being able to sneak some chardonnay into Parent Teacher nights and swear they couldn't cope with their toddlers' play dates without "just a sip".

But do we turn our noses away in disgust? Do we mount our high horse and begin casting down judgements? No, we laugh at their "kooky drinking hijinx" and smile when we see the latest wine-positive meme they've posted, scrolling past without a second thought.

That's my problem with both Wine Moms and the people around them. No one calls them an alcoholic, no one recommends they need help, no one cares. Now, I'm not saying every single Mom on your Facebook feed is in dire need of a trip to rehab, but let's call a spade a spade; if you drink in the day, can't cope with elements of your daily life without that tipsy buzz, and are actually becoming proud of sneaking alcohol into places you shouldn't have it, you need help. That's not an attack on the Wine Moms themselves though, it's an attack on their husbands, siblings, friends, and anyone else around them who sees all this and says nothing.

The definition of a High Functioning Alcoholic (HFA) is someone who maintains relationships, keeps their job, and can complete tasks while depending on alcohol for support. Wine Moms are HFA's, and the progression from HFA to stereotypical alcoholic can happen pretty quickly. 

For the HFA that I knew, the ability to sustain relationships went first. People stopped wanting to be around them, to know them. That's when they got help. But if a little more awareness had been out there about the danger of being a HFA, help could have come sooner, and bridges might not have been burned.

If you're reading this, and any one person in your life has sprung to mind, they might be a HFA too. But here's the good news - you just realised they need help now, before it's too late, and you can surround them with love and support and be there for them every step of the way.

The support that an alcoholic needs varies from person to person. One might just need someone to talk to when the cravings come. Another will need professional help from a doctor. Some might need both, or neither, and be able to stop on their own once they realise their drinking is becoming a problem. Regardless of what they need, as cliche as it sounds, admitting they have a problem is the first step to recovery, and if it takes you bringing it up with them to get them there - do it!

Alcoholism is an equal opportunities demon, and it can jump on the back of your friend's Mom just as easily as it hops on the back of a homeless man.

Instead of laughing along with your friend as she recalls how she took some Merlot in her sports bottle to aerobics class, ask her why she did it, and try to gently figure out if she's been doing it a little too often. She might really need help, and if you can get it for her sooner rather than later, isn't it worth a little awkward conversation?

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Alcoholism Is No Joke...Unless You're a Mother