As women, we’re moms, coworkers, daughters, sisters, friends, and caregivers, and we…are…busy. At the end of a packed day, taking the edge off with a glass (or two) of wine can sound pretty appealing. And if you feel that way, you’re definitely not alone. Over the past few years, we’ve seen a startling rise in alcohol use among women.
Especially with the rise of the “wine moms” or the “mommy wine culture.” All the koozies, coffee mugs, wine glasses, t-shirts, and knickknacks with sayings like “Mommy needs wine” or “mommy’s sippy cup.” And the thousands of wine-mom memes talking about unwinding after a long day of that #momlife with a big glass from your favorite bottle…or box.
It’s not just that we’re being more open about our alcohol use; heavy drinking by women is, in fact, on the rise. A study published in JAMA Psychiatry in 2017 found that women’s high-risk drinking (defined as drinking four or more drinks in a day) rose by 58 percent. The pandemic years have definitely not helped lower this rate either. Another study showed that women increased their heavy drinking days by 41% during the pandemic.
So what do you do when one glass becomes two, becomes three, then a bottle every night? We talked to Cassie Kasowski, founder of Beth’s Place, an addiction treatment center for the Fargo-Moorhead area, in our latest podcast episode: The Power of Empathy in Treating Chemical Substance Abuse. Having lost her own mother to alcohol addiction, Cassie started Beth’s Place as a facility to offer help and understanding to those suffering from the disease of addiction.
She says, “I don't like identifying things as problems; I don't like labeling things. Does it no longer serve you? Change your relationship with alcohol just like you change it with food. We're all plus-40 now, I can’t eat [an entire] pizza a night. So is it because I have an eating disorder, or is it because it no longer serves me? I also hardly drink. It just doesn't serve me.”
“Women, especially because of our body fat content, we're not meant to actually drink alcohol at all. So we have an increased chance of becoming an alcoholic because our body does not metabolize it, so I think it takes such a self-aware person that is okay to say I don't drink and this is why, and be okay with that,” Cassie adds.
If you are feeling like drinking isn’t serving you anymore, here are some benefits you and your body can look forward to. Or, you can consider these your reasons for kicking the bottle to the curb.
- Better sleep - alcohol messes with your body’s natural sleep cycles and causes you to spend less time in that deep, restful REM cycle where you really recharge. Many people use alcohol to help them sleep but it actually makes them feel less rested since your body spends the night processing the alcohol and trying to rid it from your system, rather than repairing your tissues and organs like it usually does during sleep.
- Better skin - alcohol dehydrates you and flushes out vitamins and minerals, which also dries out your skin. The result is dark circles under your eyes and a gray skin tone. It also speeds up the signs of aging. Alcohol breaks down the collagen in the skin, which keeps our skin firm and younger-looking…so more wine means more wrinkles.
- Can help with weight loss - this one might be a no-brainer, but if you’re not drinking, you’re taking in fewer empty calories and sugar. If you’re trying to lose weight, ditching the drink is a good first step.
- Boosted brain function - alcohol dependence can affect memory and cognition. Stopping drinking can start to improve brain function and concentration. It could also improve your mental health.
- Fewer sick days - because alcohol disrupts your immune system’s ability to fight/recover from bacterial and viral infections and illnesses, your immune system will be stronger without drinking.
- No hangovers - just think, waking up with no splitting headache or all-day nausea. Plus, no wondering what you said or did the night before. Win.
Drinking and alcohol use is everywhere in our culture, from wine nights out with the girls and mimosas at brunch, it can feel nearly impossible to get away from it. Or we feel like we won’t be as “fun” without alcohol. If you’re ready to give sobriety a shot, take it one day at a time. Can you go one day without a drink? How about two? What about a week?
Should you need help from a professional, it’s not all locked rooms in sterile treatment centers or stuffy church basement therapy circles. Cassie takes a person-centered approach at Beth’s Place to find the right treatment plan for each person walking through the doors. If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, you can find Cassie at bethsplacerecovery.org in the Fargo-Moorhead area.