British Columbia·Point of View

Mommy's helper: Is drinking a problem for parents?

We make jokes about mommy-juice and chardonnay in sippy cups. But what if a small drink becomes a big problem?

Is it time to put a cork in drinking and parenting?

Do you turn to wine to deal with whining? (iStock/Getty Images)

This story is part of Amy Bell's column Parental Guidance that airs on CBC Radio One's The Early Edition.

As "Dryuary" comes to a close, a quick glance at any social media stream shows a lot of parents white-knuckling their way through the month without the help of their mommy juice or parenting pop. 

But at what point does drinking and parenting become a problem?

And with a never ending supply of hashtags and GIFs related to using alcohol to cope with parenting — is it time to put a cork in it and put down the bottle for more than a month? 

Dr. Keith Ahamed is a clinical  researcher with the British Columbia Centre on Substance Use, as well as a family doctor and addiction physician. What concerns him in both his career and his social life is the number of people shocked to find out that not only is alcohol one of the most common addictions — second only to nicotine — but it can have incredibly damaging long-term effects on your health if you're drinking too much.

"It includes a variety of cancers [and] a risk of other diseases like pancreatitis, brain diseases and heart diseases" said Dr. Ahamed. 

And just how much is too much?

According to the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction, it's no more than two drinks a day to a maximum of 10 a week for women. 

For men, it's slightly more at three drinks per day to a maximum of 15 per week.

So, if you're having a few glasses of wine a night to deal with the nightly whining — you're putting yourself at risk, especially if you're a mom.

In fact, current data shows the alcohol-attributed death rate for women increased by 26 per cent from 2001 to 2017, compared with a roughly five per cent increase over the same period for men.

But if parents aren't sneaking Chardonnay in their sippy cups, will they find another way to decompress? 

Shannon Chiarenza is a Vancouver mom of two, who runs a blog and website called "Weed Mama." She's very much a big supporter of recreational marijuana use and uses her online platform to try and educate people about the benefits of cannabis and how it can help them navigate the world of parenting without the negative impacts of alcohol. 

"I call it feeling proper," said Chiarenza. "It's where you're evening out the way you feel. It helps you get into the now. It helps you de-stress." 

But there is still a lot of research to be done on the long term effects of marijuana use — and it can cause anxiety and sleeplessness in some people—something most parents are hoping to avoid.

Bottom line — parenting is hard work.  

It is a thankless job at times and a readily available and acceptable way to unwind and reset after a long day is hard to resist. Especially a delicious one!  

But we need to stop glossing over how easy it is to become addicted and the impact it can have on your health and your family.

Maybe take Dryuary to re-examine how much you drink and try and find healthier ways to manage the stress throughout the year. 

Most importantly, look at your kids and instead of seeing a reason to drink — see a reason to cut back or stop. 

About the Author

Amy Bell is a digital contributor to CBC. She can be heard weekdays on The Early Edition as the traffic and weather reporter and parenting columnist.


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