Mom and blogger shares why she decided to stop drinking, amid rise in alcohol use during the pandemic

Health

We all have felt the stress of the pandemic weighing on us over the past year and a half. And one way many people cope with that, is by reaching for a drink. Studies have shown people drank more after September 11th and Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The pandemic is no different. But this time more women are picking up this coping mechanism, and it started long before coronavirus became a concern.

You’ve seen the memes. “Oops! Did I buy wine instead of milk again?” “The most expensive part of having kids is all the wine you have to drink.” “‘Do you have kids?’ ‘Yes, three.’ ‘Do you drink?’ ‘Yes, I have three kids.'”
At first they’re funny. And at first, it seems pretty harmless. But for Janie Porter, one morning, suddenly it wasn’t. “I woke up one day on a particularly low morning… throwing up in front of my child. That’s a great way to not feel like mom of the year.” “I just decided that morning feeling so disgusting and disappointed in myself that I was done, for now at least.”

Porter wasn’t raising her glass alone. According to a RAND Corporation study, during the pandemic women increased their heavy drinking days by 41%. “Honestly my stress level increased with each child. I have four children and I remember after my fourth child was born, being in a friend group that reached for alcohol more and more. And it became a social thing and more and more in the past year it’s just part of everything everyone does. So it’s very understandable that I was part of this wave that believing that as a young mom, when I felt overwhelmed, it was time to drink!”

But now, it has been more six months since Porter has reached for a drink. But she says she’s not putting a label on this journey. “I’ve got to be honest ith you, I hate the term sober, I hate the term alcoholic, there is sort of in a lot of people’s minds, there was in my mind for a long time this idea that you’re either one or the other. What is exciting is people are realizing now that you can reevaluate your relationship with alcohol and that doesn’t make you a big scary, ‘captial A alcoholic,’ it just makes you curious about your relationship with alcohol, maybe it’s not always serving you.”

Porter is not alone in reevaluating her relationship with alcohol. Jennifer Woodward, a functional diagnostic nutrition practitioner, who works mostly with women, is seeing more people curious about quitting alcohol. It’s something she does with her clients several times a year, for a reset. And she says you may be surprised by the results. “While we think that alcohol is a stimulant, really it acts in the body as a depressant. So it is going to pull your mood down, it affects your brain chemistry.” “You think alcohol is helping you get to sleep and it does, but then a lot of people will wake up between 3 and 4 a.m. because your blood sugar drops out and your stress hormone cortisol wakes you up, says Woodward.

Women are twice as likely as men to experience depression or anxiety. Both conditions that can be made worse by drinking. But the benefits of backing off booze, aren’t just mental and emotional. “My hair has thickened, almost doubly, it’s wild. My skin is clearer, my eyes are clearer, I am sleeping way better,” exclaims Porter. “Alcohol I used to think made me a better mom because it made me more patient and I could loosen up a bit, but I was zoning out for so many of the challenging moments and trying to basically fast forward those boring and stresful mom moments. Now I don’t have the fast-forward, but I do have the ability to dial in and actually be engaged with exactly what is happening in my child’s life. I didn’t stand a chance of doing that with alcohol in my life.”

Porter says while the definition of sober may include words like “subdued and serious,” this new lifestyle is anything but. “What I’m experiencing right now is anything but boring. It’s living every day in vibrant, bold, beautiful colors instead of dulling everything down every day to a dull buzz. The reason I’m not drinking right now is because I’m too greedy of this feeling I’m having right now, I don’t really want to give it up.”

Woodward says it’s a good practice for everyone who drinks, even moderately, to just be curious about their motivation. There are so many resources if you need help cutting back or stopping altogether. We’ve compiled a list of local support groups and rehab centers. These are just some of the local resources available.

Kern Behavioral Health and Recovery Services

Kern Public Health, list of substance abuse treatment providers

Kern County Alcoholics Anonymous
(661) 322-4025

Kern County Al-Anon
(661) 330-1964

Kern County Alateen
(661) 717-1346

Ria Health

Action Drug Rehabs – Bakersfield Outpatient Services
(661) 325-4357

Synergy Recovery Services
Bakersfield
(661) 878-9930

Aegis Treatment Centers
Bakersfield
(661) 861-9967

Aspire Counseling Services
Bakersfield
(888) 585-7373

One Door Resource and Recovery Center
Bakersfield
​(661) 432-7011

BFR – Drug & Alcohol Detox Center
Bakersfield
(661) 777-2083

Relife Alcoholism Withdrawal
Bakersfield
(661) 409-3043

Social media:

She Just Glows – Living Free (Janie Porter’s Facebook group)

SheJustGlows on Instagram

SoberMomSquad on Instagram

Unexpectedjoyof on Instagram

Books:

The Unexpected Joy of Being Sober, by Catherine Gray

The Naked Mind: Control Alcohol, Find Freedom, Discover Happiness and Change Your Life, by Annie Grace

Alcohol Explained, by William Porter

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