Go on any social media platform or online, and you’re bound to see memes, jokes between friends and even movies depicting women and their love of wine.
“It’s #WineWednesday, time to drink!”
“It’s Friday, mommy needs her “#mommyjuice.”
These types of posts may seem fun and innocent, but are they unintentionally glorifying addictive alcohol usage and encouraging abuse?
“Accessibility to alcohol and social media are definitely contributing to the normalization of drinking,” Serign Marong, MD, a Banner Health family medicine physician at Banner - University Medical Center South experienced in addiction medicine, said. “And it may be why alcohol abuse is on the rise, particularly for women and older adults.”
Despite our awareness of the disease, alcoholism is still surrounded by stereotypes, which can cause many of us to misidentify and assume our social or personal drinking habits aren’t a “problem.” We may feel embarrassed in front of friends after drinking too much or “blacking out,” but we could actually be suffering from a substance abuse-related disorder.
Dr. Marong shares four questions you can ask yourself to put your drinking in check.
1. Do you obsessively think about alcohol (or drugs) in a way that is impacting your life?
Example: “Every day at work are you counting down to 5 o’clock so you can have a drink? Or, when you drop off the kids in the morning to school, are you thinking about the wine you get to have at lunch?’ If they are unable to function during the day without even one drink—if you are craving it—then there’s a problem,” Dr. Marong said.
2. When you start drinking, is it difficult for you to stop?
Example: Dr. Marong recommends you ask yourself, “has my drinking progressed over time, from one to two or three drinks? Do I find that I have to drink more for the same effect? Or do I plan on one glass of wine and end up going back to the store to pick up a second bottle?”
3. Do you find you need a drink to relieve and cope with stress or get you to relax for sleep?
Example: “I tell my patients it’s one thing to have one glass of wine, one beer, or one mixed drink, on occasion, to relax, but when you can’t cope or sleep without one, it’s a problem,” Dr. Marong said. “It may be nice in the moment, but it certainly won’t solve your problems. And, because alcohol is a depressant, it may actually make you feel worse, more depressed, in the long term.”
4. Have your friends or spouse criticized you or joked about your alcohol consumption?
Example: “I’ve even overheard children commenting on their mom’s ‘mommy juice’ and how she has to have it every night. Even though the comment may be innocent, that’s a sign that someone’s drinking may be out of control. If a friend is drinking a lot, I encourage you to ask them if they think they are drinking too much. Showing genuine concern can open a path to dialogue about what is going on in their lives,” Dr. Marong said.
Dr. Marong encourages parents to think a little harder about the messages they may be unintentionally sending with their alcohol consumption habits, memes and jokes. Kids are watching and taking in everything we say and do—the good, bad and ugly.
If you answered “yes” to any of the questions above and/or think you may have a drinking problem, speak with your medical provider or reach out to a substance abuse center. Even if your alcohol use hasn’t become unhealthy, we’re here to help and support you at every step along the way.