Women who already possess a predisposition towards alcoholic tendencies may be immensely triggered by certain aspects of motherhood. For this reason, it is not uncommon for new mothers (and experienced mothers) to develop signs and symptoms of severe alcoholism, even if they may not have exhibited warning signs prior to giving birth. Of course, motherhood is never solely to blame for the negative consequences of alcoholism – there are also many biological and physiological factors that come into play. Genetics, past traumatic experience, and pre-existing mental health disorders are all likely contributing factors to the development of alcohol dependency in women who are mothers.
Alcoholism and Motherhood
The Caron Treatment Center recently released a study describing the top 5 reasons why mothers turn to alcohol and drugs. The findings concluded that the top 5 reasons were:
- Stress or anxiety
- Romantic relationships
- Pressure from friends or family members
- Traumatic experience
- General boredom
Challenges of Motherhood
There are certain challenges that motherhood presents that may have a negative impact on women in regards to how much they imbibe. While many of these challenges are not unique to motherhood, it is important that mothers with alcohol tendencies pay careful attention, and find healthy, alternative ways of coping.
Some of these challenges include:
- Finding time for self-care.
It is often difficult for new mothers to find time to themselves. However, it is extremely important that those new to motherhood find several hours to spend alone, or participating in activities that they enjoy (such as a yoga class, time to nap, or an occasional manicure). Self-care is important to the continued maintenance of mental health.
Energy levels and mood can be difficult to regulate after pregnancy, seeing as hormone levels are constantly fluctuating. It is important that attention is paid to these fluctuations, and that self-care by means of nutrition and exercise is adequately attended to.
Having a young child is likely to greatly disrupt previous routines. This is normal. However, it is important to make sure that certain aspects of routine (such as mental health appointments, recovery groups, or any other necessary forms of outside support) are kept as priority.
- The exacerbation of mental health issues.
It is not uncommon for new mothers to stop taking necessary medications, neglect psychiatric or therapeutic appointments, or experience the onset of new psychological disorders such as post-partum depression while in the throws of early motherhood.
- Inability to put oneself first.
New motherhood entails putting the baby first, and this is always necessary considering the circumstances. Babies require a great deal of nurturing and attention, and new mothers must understand that raising a child entails immense personal sacrifice. However, it is important that new mothers also prioritize their own needs. If their needs aren’t being met, they will be unable to adequately care for another.
- Loss of personal freedom.
Freedom will, of course, be harshly compromised. This loss of freedom may make new mothers resentful, and send them in the direction of drinking or drugging. Freedom will be compromised – but only temporarily. Resentful mothers should seek therapeutic treatment to combat these negative feelings.
- Shifting familial dynamics.
Bringing a new baby into the mix is sure to change relationship dynamics between husband and wife. It may be necessary for a couple to seek relationship counseling during this delicate time. As long as careful attention is paid to the potentially shifting dynamics of the relationship, reverting to alcohol abuse will remain avoidable.
Being a ‘stay at home mom’ may force a woman to isolate herself, however unintentionally. This may be exceptionally triggering for those who have an inclination to drink alone.
Motherhood requires a great deal of patience. Those looking for instant gratification may turn to other means of obtainment – such as alcohol or drugs.
- Loss of excitement or spontaneity.
Alcoholics typically crave a high level of excitement, one which will inevitably begin to rapidly dissipate with early motherhood.
If you are a mother experiencing signs of alcoholism, there is help available. We at Willow Place for Women have extensive experience dealing with alcoholism in mothers – call today.