Drunken moms…

Wow!  When I heard the news that Elizabeth Vargas, co-anchor of 20/20 who had previously been an anchor on World News Tonight, was in rehab I was shocked.  The 51 year-old mother of two boys, is in a rehab facility for alcohol dependency.  Vargas is a prominent Latina newswoman and was the first Latina to anchor a national evening news program in the U.S.  In 2005, she married Marc Cohn, a singer-songwriter.

I have always held her in high esteem because she is open and honest on the air.  I was really shocked to see that this person who I considered to be so strong was struggling with dependency.  She was courageous to seek help and her situation has made me think of all of the other women in the world who are struggling with alcohol or substance dependency.

As a parent, there are many times weekly, or even daily, where you may feel driven to drink.  For me, it was when my son was little and he would cry for his dad leaving me feeling guilty that he was growing up with only one parent.  Now it’s when both my children have hormonal shifts to match my PMS- I call these “kid-period”.  Seriously, when my kids have their “period” at the same time as me it drives me out of my mind.  Both my son and daughter become super whiny and since I am already sensitive at that time it’s like nails on a chalkboard.

In movies and on television, I think that it is notable that there are numerous portrayals of mothers who have a stash of alcohol- both married and not. Black and Latina women have actually been shown to drink less than our white counterparts, but those who do tend to suffer greater health consequences.   I don’t drink often, but I must confess that I myself have a stash.  It’s in my wardrobe.  Sad, but true- it is comforting to know that it is there only for me and that it is beyond prying eyes i.e. my husband or my son who would watch the level of alcohol to determine if or when I had a drink.

I think that the reason that my hubby and son pay attention is because intuitively they know that moms are stressed.  They don’t show it on the outside, by say, picking up the underwear that mysteriously found its way to the couch or cooking dinner unprovoked, but they know it deep down.  I am not an alcoholic, but dependency issues do run in my family.  I have been blessed to learn from them and so I refuse to become dependent.  I don’t even use caffeine on a regular basis because I would definitely be a 5 cup-a-day lady!

We moms know that we are stressed, too.  Somehow, we have been brainwashed into thinking that we must be “Superwoman”.    We must balance our budgets perfectly.  We must always look good.  We have to have the patience of a saint when our child(ren) have melt downs and we must cook fresh, healthy meals everyday.

There is extra pressure when you are single.  First, we usually do not have back-up if we lose our temper.  And if we do, it might be a judgemental __________ (you fill in the blank).  Second, we don’t want people to think that we are not doing a good job. We are already seen as risk-factor creators and know that the child protection system is not necessarily my friend.  We believe that we must “suck it up” no matter how hard things are and when we can’t, some of us may fall victim to alcohol or drugs.

If you think that you might have a dependency problem, please seek help.   If you are not sure, if you have an alcohol problem, you can take this short alcohol use quiz.

If you do have a problem with alcohol abuse talk to your doctor about helping you get into rehab- yes, I know… rehab is for crackheads and white moms who have husbands- but it’s for you too if you need help.  Rehab centers have a better track record of getting people better faster than just working with their regular doctor.

If you do not have a doctor or health insurance, talk to someone you trust who can help you get what you need.  Maybe that’s your pastor or your best friend, but it cannot be your best drinking buddy.

Also, search out ways to avoid and relieve stress as a single mom.

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