Episode 90: Is it Okay to Drink Around Your Alcoholic?
A while ago, I started practicing yoga. I found it incredibly therapeutic and very nurturing. It didn’t help me with weight loss, but it did help me take a much-needed timeout from the craziness of the day to center myself. And I loved the way my body felt strong and flexible.
I was coming out of my yoga class one day, and I saw a T-shirt that said “namasté and rosé.” I looked at it, and I thought, “Hmm, interesting.”
I’m practicing yoga because I want to cleanse my body.
I do hot yoga because I want to release all the toxins from my pores. But I know that alcohol can be toxic, so I wouldn’t have put those two together.
I also started seeing all of these pictures of cute and funny jokes about moms and alcohol.
“Save water, drink wine.”
“A banana is 105 calories. A shot of whiskey is 80. You do the math.”
“If I ever go missing, I want my picture on a wine bottle instead of a milk carton. That way my friends will know I’m missing.”
These are funny, right?
But as I started seeing more and more women using alcohol as a joke, as a way to unwind, I started to get a little bit more concerned. And I’m not trying to be Debbie Downer. I’m not trying to be that woman who comes to the party and shames everybody.
But I think there’s a growing trend that we need to be aware of, particularly in our community where alcohol plays a very negative role in our lives. We have a love-hate relationship with alcohol, right? So I started thinking about this more and more.
Is this true? Are women now using alcohol more as a dependent to get through the day than they were before? I don’t remember my mother ever having T-shirts or stickers or pads of papers about wine or whiskey.
I started to do some research, and I found that the fastest growing segment of people who are abusing alcohol is women.
Yep. More than men. And get this: it’s women above the age of 40. Is that not crazy? That’s crazy to me. I would never have thought that. So which women have the highest risk of alcohol abuse and alcoholism?
- Women who have family histories of alcoholism
- Women who are victims of violence as children or adults
- Women whose partners are alcoholics
- Women with binge and purge eating disorders
- Women with dual diagnosis, especially depression
- Women who are in transition (meaning divorce or retirement or children leaving home)
- Older women with grief and loss issues
Those are the women who are at the highest risk of alcohol abuse and alcoholism. It makes sense why it is now becoming the fastest growing segment.
So, if you want to drink, and you feel like you don’t have a problem, go for it. Have a drink. And we’re going to talk about how much is too much in a second, but I would encourage you to drink when your loved one is not around.
Think about it this way: I want you to pick your favorite food group. Is your favorite food group carbs? Or is it dairy? What about sugar? Pick one of those food groups right now that gives you great joy. Did you pick one?
I want you to imagine that you can never have that food group again. Ever. For the rest of your life. That entire food group.
It’s such a serious problem that your life depends on it.
If you had anything within that food group, it could literally mean life or death for you. It could mean jail time or financial disaster. It could mean that you lose your entire family.
But you love this food group. And there are signs, posters, and billboards for it everywhere. You open up a magazine or a book or turn on your TV, and you see that food group everywhere. All of your friends love eating this food group.
You can’t escape it. It’s impossible. You would have to live in a cave in the middle of a mountain and never come back in order for you never to be faced with the temptation of this food group again. And for the rest of your life, you will have a visual reminder that you can never, ever choose to have this food group again.
That is how your loved one feels about alcohol whether they want to admit that they have a problem or not.
They know they have an issue. And the reason why they are not admitting they have that issue is because they know they’re going to have to face what you just pretended you were facing.
So, when someone asks me if they should drink in front of their alcoholic partner, my answer is: why? Why would you? Be that safe person. And when you’re around them, support them.
If you’re choosing to love them and stay with them, then be there for them. Don’t store it in your fridge or keep it in your pantry. When you go out to dinner, order anything but alcohol.
Not having alcohol around the house when you live with an alcoholic is one of the most loving acts of kindness you can do.
I’m not saying you can’t ever have a drink again if you don’t have a drinking problem. You can go out and have some wine or a drink with your friends. But when your loved one is in your presence, make the loving choice to support them even if they are drinking, and even if they haven’t committed to stopping yet.
You need to be a good role model. Not only for your loved one, but for your children. You want your kids to see that not all adults needed to drink. Why? Because there’s real proof and evidence that this disease is hereditary.
The longer your children put off drinking, the smaller their chances of addiction become.
So let’s get back to when you drink. When you have a drink, how much is too much? What is a healthy dose? According to the University of Washington Medical Center and the US Department of Health and Human Services, no more than one drink per day for daily drinkers.
So if you’re drinking every day, seven days per week, no more than one drink is considered healthy. No more than two drinks per day for occasional drinkers.
This got me thinking, “Well, how big is one drink?” That’s debatable, right? You can fill a wine glass to the rim. Is that really considered one drink?
One drink is a 12-ounce beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of hard liquor.
Now, you might be going, “Okay, so I might have borderline alcohol abuse in my life. I might need to take a closer look at this.” Again, no judgment at all. This is common. Heavy drinking for women is three or more drinks per day.
If you’re drinking three or more drinks per day, you might need to take a look at yourself.
And if you’re like, “Well, Michelle, I don’t drink every day,” then I’d tell you a binge drinker drinks excessively or out of control with periods of abstinence in between them. A binge for women consists of three or more drinks on one occasion.
So how many times are you having three or more drinks per occasion? If they are pretty close together, you might want to take a look at this.
There’s clearly, and scientifically, a growing population of women in the world who are using alcohol as a way to escape, as a numbing, or as a coping mechanism that’s unhealthy and that we might need to take a look at.
And if drinking isn’t an issue for you, then it shouldn’t be an issue to stop it around the person you love.
Really, that’s the truth.
For me, I chose not to drink when I was married to an alcoholic for two reasons: one is that I hated alcohol because it was ruining our family. I never wanted to see it, smell it, or look at it ever again. It was killing my husband.
At the time, it was causing my kids to be ripped off of their father. It was robbing us of our money. It was just horrible, and I wanted nothing to do with it.
The other reason I didn’t want to drink is because I wanted to be a good role model for my kids. I could see that my husband was falling apart. I knew that they were noticing. They’re not stupid, and even though they were very young, they could tell that the liquid in that glass made Daddy act differently after he finished it.
I wanted to be their safe spot.
And I wanted to show them not every adult has to do this. You get to choose, and you don’t have to drink when you grow up. So those are the reasons why I chose not to drink for nine years.
I hope this helps answer your question. I know, for some of you, it’s not the answer you want to hear. And if you disagree with me, that’s fine. Disagree with me. It doesn’t mean that you need to unsubscribe or write me an angry email. Don’t. Just disagree with me, and choose to do something different.
I’m telling you what I think is right based on research and my own personal experience, but you reserve the right to form your own opinion. That’s the beauty of this community.
I’m teaching you from a place of love, but we all reserve the right to take ownership of our own lives, our own decisions, and our own choices.
I love each one of you, and I am here for you every step of the way.
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