Mommy's hidden helper: Drinking to cope with life
Mental health counselors say it's often considered the acceptable escape, but many are now sounding the alarm as a hidden health concern in women continues to rise.
Nobody is quite sure how common it is, because it's often not reported until there are tragic consequences.
We take a look at mom's who use alcohol as a harmless habit to cope with the kids and everyday stress.
Two mom's say it nearly cost them their children and their lives.
"Everybody says it's okay, but for me," said mom Kim Boles. "Within three years, I was [a] full blown alcoholic."
It was so gradual, that Kim didn't even know it was happening.
As her family grew, so did the need for a little help relaxing at the end of a long day.
"When they would go to bed, and I would pop the can of beer or have a mixed drink and I would just sit there, and that would be my time."
'My time' turned into 'all the time.'
"I started going to the store and buying alcohol and when the kids went to sleep, I would drink."
Kim managed to keep her pattern hidden for years, so did her good friend Lisa Goodpaster.
Lisa says her coping with the kids started at dinner.
As family stresses mounted, so did the dinner-time drinks.
"Because what would be the harm in that right? People have glasses of wine with dinner all the time, what would be the harm?"
Before long, both of these moms, who had kept their habit hidden, lost everything. Lisa went to rehab, and Kim...
"Within four years, I had lost everything, my kids, my home, my mom, just everything. I got arrested, I was sentenced to five years, and I was put in prison. I have never been in trouble in my life, until I was 42-years-old."
Since then, Kim and Lisa have been able to rebuild their lives.
They are speaking up now, because they want other moms to know 'Mommy's Hidden Helper,' really wasn't a help at all.
"I don't want my children to think that that is the way that we should live our lives, because it leads to nowhere," said Lisa.
"It's just not a stress reliever for me, I think that I thought that it would be, but it was really a lie." replied Kim.
While these moms know it was a challenge, they admit that for others, maybe it wouldn't be such a challenge, which is where some of us might need to have a few guidelines.
Kimberly Mages is a mental health counselor.
"A lot of people think having a glass of wine or a glass of beer after work or when dealing with children, can be a good way of coping. The problem with that is, is that you are opening up the idea that you can escape reality to deal with your stresses."
Mages says while we often hear these days about tragic addictions to opiods and heroin, she see's just as many tragic consequences for families with something far more acceptable.
"If you are escaping reality with a glass of wine just on everyday stresses, what are you going to do when the big things happen?"
Her message is simple.
"Just because it's legal, doesn't mean it's okay, it doesn't mean it's healthy."
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism says while fewer women drink than men, women equal or surpass men in the number of problems that result from their drinking.
"If you are dealing with something to cope with everyday life, that's when it can become a problem."
Kim and Lisa have both been in rehab, and have now not had a drink they say in four years.
Their hidden helpers not a commitment to family.
"The biggest thing for me is what we do as a mother, we are teaching our children."
And a belief that there is no bottle big enough to fill them with what they have discovered along the way.
"Really, I just have a lot of hope, and everyday isn't perfect, but everyday is good."
If you want to learn more, click here.
You can also answer a series of questions there to see if you have a problem, and learn more about where to find help for you or a family member you love.
The early warning signs that there's a problem include:
- Always needing alcohol in your home.
- Running out and getting worried.
- Thinking about a drink first thing every day.
- Drinking regularly to handle a life stressor such as the kids.