The Dangers Of “Wine O’Clock”


OMG isn’t that totes adorbs?

I don’t know if I’m qualified to write this, but I’m going to do it anyways.

I am not a stay at home mother. I am not even female. I don’t viscerally and emotionally know what it’s like to be a woman in a patriarchal society. I don’t know, firsthand, the pressures involved in living up to what society thinks a powerful woman looks like, or just being a woman, period. So it may seem presumptuous to forge ahead, but I think there is a greater energy at work and exploring to do.

I need to start off and say that I am not anti-alcohol. I don’t get upset at targeted ads in my social media time lines. I don’t get set off by seeing page after page of booze ads in magazines. I don’t freak out when I watch funny or silly TV commercials which romanticize or minimize the affects of alcohol use. I just don’t. Just because I got sober, it doesn’t mean others can’t drink. Having said that, I did go through a short phase in my very early recovery where I felt indignant towards the alcohol industry, where I did raise a shaking fist against the “irresponsible” booze giants and their “propaganda”. It was my own anger in not getting what I wanted (lots of adult beverages), and I soon stopped raging against the machine and focused on my own healing.

But there is something about the culture of “wine o’clock” which does set off flags for me, the mental equivalent of a dog raising its ears to an unknown and strange sound in the near distance. For those who aren’t familiar with this call-to-arms-and-elbows-bending, “wine o’clock” is the phrase which heralds the unscrewing of a cap or popping of a cork to let our collective hair down and finally relax goddammit and wash away the sins of the world by swirling an ice cold Chard or deep, brooding Amarone. It’s a cutesy term for “the bar is now open.” It’s the in-joke for stressed out mothers and caregivers, for six-figure power women, for those who need a break from the world. It’s the equivalent of “it’s 5 o’clock somewhere in the world!” Get the corkscrew and let’s chug from expensive bottles, shall we?

OMG That’s so right, isn’t it? I’m SO tagging all my BFF’s on this one.

Dads and men in general don’t get into the “wine o’clock” culture. Sure we have “boys night out”, but it’s not the same. We don’t have that perky, light-hearted mantra to usher in glassfuls of gleeful cheer. “Wine o’clock” generally pervades middle class and upper-middle class homes. It tells us that mom is now off the clock and taking care of herself. She is unwinding. She is slipping off the skin of her day and indulging. Hell, there is even a wine called “Mommy’s Time Out.”

If you read up on this topic, you will find a dark underbelly – women who start to succumb to alcohol abuse, women who feel the need to fill the void with wine, women who rationalize their increased drinking by latching onto the idea that all women “deserve a break.” Many female alcoholics I know started out with the “wine o’clock” tipple and started down the dark path of alcoholism. There are many ways to go down that spiraling path, but there is something insulating about being part of a culture where stress and even binge drinking is painted over in glittery euphemisms. And this is the danger.

OMG those are like the BEST EVER. I can relate! Stupid bitches!

The days of men outdrinking women are becoming extinct, although women (generally) still get drunk quicker than men. Studies show that women are drinking a whole hell of a lot more than they traditionally did in the past (thirty-four percent of British women are classed as high risk drinkers, with a one in six chance of having health problems due to drinking too much, according to the Daily Mail) and that has a lot to do with alcohol companies targeting women with all sorts of cute wine names and with the normalizing of getting sloshed on Sauvignon Blanc while taking a bath or binge watching Netflix. And I don’t blame the booze pushers per se, although they capitalize on it. This culture was there before the marketing agents got their talons in it. It’s the culture which is the danger, not the wineries, even though they are certainly enjoying the spoils of “wine o’clock”.

There is nothing wrong with unwinding at the end of a day. There is nothing wrong with having a glass or two of wine. There is nothing wrong with having a laugh with friends while sharing drinks. I am certainly not asserting these things be abolished. Most people can manage this. Most people don’t have to have wine or a stiff drink every day. Many people will also go to the gym, call a friend, do yoga, take a nap, watch TV, play games with their kids, or upload cute puppy videos on Facebook. In other words, there are many ways to wash away the dirt of the day. Wine can be one of those things (to a non-alcoholic, of course), but when the culture gets pushed and creating a sense that every other mother out there is popping corks with the same frequency they change diapers, that is the slippery slope.

OMG Laura is like the best person EVER. She’s my spirit animal!

This romanticism of a gay ol’ time with our friend Ms. Merlot creates a sense that without alcohol, we are a ball of anxiety and will never full relax. It also gives the false sense that just because one drinks pricey wine in an even pricier wine glass, that they will never be that wino in the park drinking from a paper bag-covered bottle underneath a bridge image of what a “real” alcoholic looks like. It’s as if the alcohol from a 1971 Chateau Margaux is different than that from a 1.5 liter bottle of sweet sherry. It’s that arrogance and ignorance (tied into pride) which is the shackle that binds so many people to potential alcohol abuse.

OMG I need a T-shirt of that right now! Shut up – how FUN is that?

Regardless of the vehicle and ritual which brought us to the drink, I feel that underneath any (or lack thereof) pomp and circumstance, the same causes and conditions apply. I have sat with many men and women who, on the surface, were light years away in their circumstances, but were united in how they felt before, during and after drinking. I have met older women, dressed in stunning clothes and driving expensive cars to meetings, talking about their bottoms, about how they felt utterly desperate and wanting and suicidal. I could relate to their emotional states. I could sense the same feelings of worthlessness and pain that I had when I was drinking. I could also relate to the guy who ate from dumpsters and abandoned his family, who also felt alone, desolate and angry.

From Park Avenue to park bench, it’s all the same.

In the end, it’s about living an authentic life, to the best of our ability. We all have our diversions and activities to chill out and treat ourselves. I wouldn’t think of chastising anyone (read: a social drinker) for taking a glass of Riesling to the fireplace and relaxing. That’s not the point here, but I do worry when slamming down bottles of wine is normalized underneath a circus tent full of unicorns and bunnies and given the cutesy term “wine o’clock.” Perhaps I am being judgy, and perhaps I am not explaining this well, but I do know that many women needlessly die from alcohol abuse because they don’t see the damage they are doing guised as “taking the edge off.”

I would love to see a “self-love o’clock” become a thing.

But it’s not as catchy, is it?

63 Comments Add yours

  1. Catherine Townsend-Lyon, Author & Columnist says:

    Great Post Paul!

    Long time since my last visit! Hope all is well and blessed your way XO… Keep sharing the message of HOPE my good friend “-)


    1. Paul S says:

      I hope you are well too, Cat! Love seeing your name and smiling face pop up here! Blessings to you as well.

  2. soberinvegas says:

    have you read the book “her best kept secret” by Gabrielle Glaser? it explores the history of women and alcohol and discusses the relationship between women and wine in the US over the past 60 years.

    1. Paul S says:

      No I haven’t – I have heard of it though! I know that there are several fantastic books which document and describe the relationship women have with alcohol. I guess I haven’t read them for obvious reasons – I imagine that I wouldn’t relate as much, perhaps? But I think that as I move down this path, I will probably start to do more reading in that direction. Thanks for this!

      1. soberinvegas says:

        based on some of the thoughts in your post I think you would enjoy this book. It’s an interesting look at history around the marketing of alcohol, and I was able to check it out at my local library 🙂

  3. ainsobriety says:

    I agree with this 100%.
    I was this woman. Big job, kids, need to look good and have it all together, struggling with anxiety and depression and relaxing with wine. Drinking at baby groups. We all did it. Weren’t we fun??!? Sophisticated?!? La la la

    And then I needed more wine.
    Eventually I found myself alone on the couch crying into my wine glass wondering why life had passed me by, unappreciated, hard done by.

    Wine is a backstabbing bitch. And I never even saw it coming.

    I find these ads insidious. Maybe they seem funny, but not when your kids are wondering why mommy is passed out on the couch.

    I’ll stick with coffee and yoga. Both have treated me so much better!

    1. Paul S says:

      Thanks Anne for this. I wasn’t entirely comfortable writing something that is out of my radar, so to speak. So this makes me feel better.

      I agree about the ads. Google “wine o’clock funny” or similar in Google Images and you will be awash in “fun” and “hilarious” tshirts, aprons, ads, wine gear, comics, etc. which all tap into that side of normalising day drinking and such. And I get it – for someone who probably will never go down our path, it may be a hoot. But for many, that is how it starts, yes? But as you said, when the kids are wondering why mommy is angry, weepy and sloppy, then it’s far from funny. It’s like those beer ads in which everyone is pretty, well behaved but still partying. They don’t show them 8 beers in, puking, making out with someone they don’t know, fighting,

      And yes! Stick with yoga and coffee! For me it’s running and coffee!

      Blessings and thanks, my friend!

  4. soberisland says:

    Nice “mansplaining”. No seriously, though you are right. Great post.The tags to the pictures cracked me up, you must be reading my Facebook. 🙂 it’s scary out there. The last few years of my drinking I would never put anything on social media that might elude to the fact that there was alcohol involved in my posts or pictures and thinking back now it’s probably because I was having “wine o’clock” quite frequently and I didn’t want anyone keeping track. I used to have a few guy friends who would tell me to drink more like a woman, discourage me from trying to keep up with the dudes. It would baffle me and kinda piss me off, what do you mean “drink like a lady?” They told me I didn’t have to match them beer for beer. I guess I got trashed a lot quicker and I was annoying them. Too bad- it’s called feminism was my reply. So dumb now.

    1. Paul S says:

      I almost died when I saw the “mansplaining” thing. That was obviously not the intention…hence my upfront disclosures…lol.

      I like how you boiled it down to feminism in your rationalization in keeping up with those guys. Having said that, I have seen a lot of women drink dudes under the table. But it’s tolerance levels built up over time, and some genetics thrown in there for good measure.

      And yes, I have seen plenty of those kind of remarks on IG, FB, etc. so it was pretty easy to mock them up…ha ha.

      I had my own version of “wine o’clock” – it was called “I’m awake”. I didn’t even bother trying to rationalize or justify my boozing. I just kept drinking and didn’t give a damn about what I thought about it. I knew I was an alcoholic and just said “well, that’s what alkies do!”

      Anyway, thanks for this. I appreciate your comments. And please don’t freak me out with the “mansplaining” thing, because I actually hate the mansplaining thing and would be mortified if I ended up doing it (which now you are making me think I did…lol)

      1. soberisland says:

        Oh, I was so teasing. I don’t think for one second that you are a mansplainer.

        1. Paul S says:

          Phew! (Now I can rest. Literally. Nap time!)

  5. Great post Paul! I agree with it 100% as well. I started off just relaxing with wine – 1 or 2 glasses a night after work. Then a couple of rough days with stuff going on in my personal life and slowly that crept up “holy crow I drank a whole bottle last night!” a couple of times a week. Then it got to a bottle a night… and worse and worse until I was hiding the extent of it, feeling completely out of control, scared and alone.
    I think it’s especially difficult for women (NOT saying it isn’t for men, but I’m not a man so can’t speak to that) because we’re the ones who are supposed to be able to hold our sh*t together – we feel like we have to be strong and work, look after the house and the kids, heck we even make fun of men for their “man colds” while we power through. Half the time women can’t even get support from other women for basic parenting (ie bottle vs boob, cloth diapers vs disposable, spanking or not) so there’s NO WAY we’re reaching out and talking about being worried about having a drinking problem! We know we’d be the gossip of the workplace or moms group. “Wine o’clock” is probably the most inclusive thing that women have with each other and one of the few things that can be posted about and joked about online without getting judged or ostracized. My thoughts anyway…

    1. Paul S says:

      I really appreciate the insight on this. I didn’t think about what you said about not getting support from other women and being the butt of jokes or gossip. We men tend to think that women are much more supportive of one another, but obviously that isn’t always the case! And I certainly have heard all about what you talk about, about women having to feel that they have to have their shit together. I have heard that countless times, so obviously I take that at face value. Men do have something similar – that we have to be the strong silent type, that we have to take care of things, that we can’t seem weak in any way. We have a more lone wolf type deal going on with us, so I think that is why we don’t do the “wine o’clock” thing. We just drink and that’s it. No pomp and circumstance. At least that was my experience.

      Amazing how much we learn as we share, and that is something I cherish. Thank you for this!

      1. This is why the world needs more group hugs and empathy 😉

        1. Paul S says:

          Fully agreed 🙂

  6. Roderick says:

    Booze is self-medicating, so it goes well with a dosage time like “wine o’clock,” or even “beer o’clock” as in the film Come Hell or High Water. Then it sneaks up on you and it becomes “now o’clock”. My aunt clutched a glass of sherry under her armpit anytime after noon, and that’s why she stood around looking like a pickled Jack Benny all the time. Wine o’clock may be trendy at first, but give it time, and it will begin to smell like armpit.

    1. Paul S says:

      You will have to forgive me, Roderick, but that image of your aunt with sherry under her armpit and the pickled Jack Benny comment made me laugh. I haven’t heard “beer o’clock” – so that’s new to me. But you’re right about “now o’clock”. For me, just being awake was enough to have drinks. I wanted to get away from me as much as possible.

      And yeah, trendy, but for so many people, that wine o’clock spiralled down into something more nefarious and dangerous. Thanks for this, Roderick. I appreciate your comments and thoughts always.

  7. Hi Paul,
    I think you explained this very well!
    I worry about several of my nieces, who post all of these wine-o-clock related things on FB.
    I know I didn’t drink every night, but when I did, it was “I need this, I deserve this after such a hard day teaching…and the kids were nuts, and the parents were nuts…”
    Then I went nuts!!

    1. Paul S says:

      Thanks Wendy for this! Yes, I think the explosion of social media has certainly raised this whole culture. FB for sure, with pictures of raised margaritas over sunsets and backyard parties doesn’t help with the whole thing. I mean, certainly people can have a drink or two and call it a day. My wife can have a beer (or even half) and call it a night. But she doesn’t do it from a “I had a hard day” mentality – it comes from just unwinding a bit, or at a social function. I think that we train our minds to expect alcohol as a reward, and it starts to bother us when we don’t get it!

      I appreciate the comments!!

  8. Hearon (HD) says:

    Paul, your captions are hilarious! Great post so I won’t get deep here. For the record, I don’t care about ads in me feed, either, but I love responding to them and f’ing with them a little. Immature, I know. Seriously, what actually concerns me the most about this issue you describe is that it makes the concept of ODAAT seem impossible. As you know, people struggle mightily with “NEVER again.” This culture you describe makes that much harder.

    1. Paul S says:

      Hearon! Thanks for this, dude. I do have fun with the pics and captions, I have to admit. I agree about the ODAAT concept being hard to do with this kind of culture (having said that, I have issues with the ODAAT concept in general, but that’s a post for another day). As for the ads in feeds, you and I know some folks who this really annoys, and we all have our responses. The thing is that booze ads are everywhere – newspaper, billboards, television, etc. so I can’t get mad at them for doing what they do. Same with online. I know that we are “targeted” in some way, but we do talk about alcohol. So what do we expect? lol.
      Anyways, thanks for this man. I hope you are well!

      1. Paul S says:

        One Day At A Time 🙂

      2. Hearon (HD) says:

        ODAAT; I may have had a typo and haven’t gone back to look at my original comment. But it stands for “one day at a time.” Don’t know if you are a 12 stepper but broadly: refers to the AA principle of literally facing life one day at a time and not concerning yourself with tomorrow.

        1. Thank you for replying! No I’m not a 12 stepper but this phrase works pretty well for me anyway, good stuff.

  9. saoirsek says:

    Excellent post, that whole wine o clock thing always did my nut in, even when I was drinking. I, like you have no problem with others drinking, although there does come a point in the night when my bullshitometer tells me it’s time to go… I could go on a rant about how this kind of crap normalises harmful drinking but that’s just none of my damn business🙂

    1. Paul S says:

      ha ha I like that last sentence. Reminds me of that kermit the frog drinking tea meme that we often see when we hear “but that’s just none of my business”…lol. Anyways, thanks for this. We can certainly go on about the whole business of just how *many* things out there can normalize harmful drinking. I am not one to rant about these things or to cry foul and all that. I just try to focus on my own recovery and to help others. The greater social issues feel out of my league, to be honest. But I know many folks who do rage against the machine and I applaud them. Thank you for your comments and the read!

  10. Ginger Groundhog says:

    I read Anne’s comment and thought “well she nailed exactly what I was going to say” Truthfully I felt myself slip sliding into more and more wine/vodka and ‘wine o’clock’ became my jokey life raft, see everyone is like me, everyone is just dying to get home and have a glass.
    This is a great post and so well thought out and considered.

    1. Paul S says:

      Thank you so much, GG! I appreciate it. And yeah, it’s a great jokey life raft (I love that expression), until it’s not funny any more. It’s a great way to rationalize, and especially when we think we are no different than everyone else out there uncorking their favourite Sauvignon Blanc or whatnot. But for a guy like me, it wasn’t about wine any more, it was about getting into oblivion, and before I knew it, vodka became my friend. Then it turned on me. Ugh. thanks again for this!

  11. I Quit Wineing says:

    Thank you for another great post. I started my own wine o clock routine after the birth of my youngest child. I had post natal depression and got through every day by reassuring myself that at 5 o clock I could open a bottle of wine. My psychiatrist laughed and said I was self medicating. Society seemed quite accepting of my new lifestyle. Like you pointed out, Facebook was full of funny jokes about women and wine o clock. I was normal in the light of most people.
    For me getting out of the wine o clock habit was the hardest part of quitting. It took me three months of forcing myself to do other things before I finally felt free of the urge to drink at 5 o clock. Wine o clock is now an evening walk. I like it much better 😍

    1. Paul S says:

      Ha! I like that your psychiatrist called you out on that. And like you rightly say, society accepts this kind of thing, as long as it’s guised under something cutesy and non-threatening sounding. And don’t you see that it’s some sort of conditioning too? The brain gets wired to expect that 5 o’clock pour. I got to a point where if I were awake, my mind and body expected vodka straight from the bottle. It was if my body required it to live …and that is how bad alcoholism gets. But I am so glad you broke out of that cycle. Took me some time too, and now when I need relief, I go for a run, or meditate or do all sorts of other things. We are resilient!
      Thank you for this.

  12. jhirth1 says:

    What a great read.
    Girl’s night!
    Mom’s night out!
    Girl’s weekend!
    Wine O’clock!
    Share the Xanax!
    So fun and chic and glamorous.
    I sure wish I could get those years back and be totally alive and present with my family. Thankful to be finally free.

    1. Paul S says:

      Yup! We can dress it all up as much as we want, but it’s still boozing! And again, nothing wrong with that. Most people can get away with it unscathed, but for some of us it’s not the right path. I too wish I could take all those years back, but as they say, we are where we are, and perhaps I needed an ass kicking to see the light.

      Glad you’re here 🙂

  13. stacilys says:

    Heyyyyyy Paul, excellent post. I know I’ve used the stressed out and feeling down excuse before for having a glass or two. Never more than that though. I can definitely see the danger in falling into a trap of justifying drinking. Especially in the sense of what you’ve touched on here.
    Oh, gotta love the photos and captions Paul. You know I’m a fan of your humor.

    1. Paul S says:

      Thanks Staci! As I have reiterated, I think most people can get away with a glass or two now and then. I don’t think most (non alcoholic) people think much of it. I don’t obsess or think much of my brussels sprouts consumption and such…lol. So I am good there. I enjoy them, and have them when i feel like it, but I don’t depend on brussels sprouts to make me feel normal and whole.
      And yeah, I have fun with the pics and captions 😉

      Hope you are well, my friend. Can I tell you how excited I am that we have reconnected??

      1. stacilys says:

        You always seem to bring a smile to my face Paul. I love ” I don’t obsess or think much of my brussels sprouts consumption and such…”
        Yea, I hear you though. Alcohol, and especially wine, can be dangerous. I say ‘especially wine’ because it doesn’t seem to hold the same type of stigma that all other types of alcohol do. At least in my head. It’s as if it’s got some sort of ‘sophistication’ about it that takes away the harshness of all other types. Anyhow, I know that for me, I need to be careful. I like a glass or two, but if I’m not careful, I could end up doing it every weekend, and maybe some time during the week. My good is that I have a husband that doesn’t drink at all. He doesn’t want me drinking regularly like that. And to tell you the truth, I think it is dangerous to drink regularly like that. I don’t know. I could be wrong. I’ve never been an alcoholic, but I can see how it’s easy to justify. Especially with wine.
        I hope you and your family are well too Paul.
        And that is so sweet @Can I tell you how excited I am that we have reconnected?? I am super excited too.

        1. Paul S says:

          I hear that, Staci! I never understood someone who didn’t drink, but never had a problem with it! That is, someone who chooses abstinence just on principle (or health) alone! I never understood them. But in many ways I wish I was like that growing up. Be we are where we are, yes?

          And yeah, wine has that sophistication level, although during my run I found the biggest and cheapest bottles…stuff that barely tasted like wine…ha ha.

          And of course, can I tell you how much fun it is having reconnected as well! What a blast!

          1. stacilys says:

            Yea, my dad was a chronic alcoholic. I remember as a teenager, he would buy these big boxes of cheap wine. Now that’s definitely not the sophisticated type of wine though now, is it?
            Paul, I’m so glad you are back here on WP. You are an amazing writer and I’m glad that there is another Canuck I can connect with.
            🙂 ❤
            p.s. will be by your blog soon to check out what you've been up to. Just been super busy these day.
            🙂 ❤

          2. Paul S says:

            Awww…Staci so thankful you’re here too! I have your blog post opened up ready for me to look at after I drop the boys off at my folks’ place. Catching up on my WP! And I have to write something too – been a while! Big hugs and love to you.

  14. Bryan B says:

    I have to remember that only 10% of the people who drink are alcoholics or have the potential to be alcoholics. As a marketer, I am not going to concern myself with the 10% that may be afflicted. I am after the 90% who can drink responsibly and have the money that can buy my stuff. It may appear immoral or unresponsible but it’s business.

    Most people can drink with immunity, I can not. I do not expect the rest of the world to bend to my problem. I need to adapt and accept that others can drink without any problem. I cannot live in jealousy or resent that they can. I only know that alcohol is poison for me. God willing, they won’t get another dime from me.

    1. Paul S says:

      Hey Bryan – I agree with you. As I mentioned, I don’t really place blame on the alcohol companies. They are doing what businesses need to do. Of course they aren’t concerned about the *possible* chance that someone may be drinking too much. They just need to move all that Malibu rum and Grey Goose vodka. It’s a product. If I sold cars, I wouldn’t be worried about who is going to be taking a dangerous joy ride or use one to rob a bank. I just need to do my job and sell a car. So I get it, and that is why I reiterate that it’s a culture thing, not a capitalist one.

      And like you, I don’t expect the world to change just because I got sober. I have told many newcomers this – life is still life. We are just learning to learn a new life for ourselves…how we respond and react to the world is on us and us alone. I alone can only change my perception of myself and the world. Being jealous of others because they can drink and I can’t doesn’t serve me in the least. I had my shot, and that is it! So I move on and focus on the things I can do and how I can be of service to others. Simple. And like you, I won’t spend a dime on booze for me ever again. And I like that.

      Thanks for this! I appreciate your insight.

  15. Mark Goodson says:

    Dude. I think you make an excellent distinction between alcohol as an objective thing–a thing that’s not harmful in and of itself–and that which promotes alcohol abuse.

    I really agree with you with this. It’s the same notion of like “5 ocklock somewhere” mentality, where the only reason you work hard is so you can drink. That work-hard play-hard mentality was really detrimental to my health. Like you (haha-I was laughing at the start of your post) I am not part of the ‘wine ocklock’ club. But still, I can relate to the ways media portrayers drinking as a safe and reasonable outlet. When, for some of us, it’s not! It’s actually deadly. Anyways have a great weekend.


    1. Paul S says:

      Thanks Mark for this – yes the whole work hard-play hard mentality is ingrained in us, culturally speaking. Unfortunately for many that includes harmful substances. And again, most people manage fine. They get hammered once or twice and then leave it be. Or they go on a run then smarten up. Same goes with recreational drugs, etc. Or the casino or whatnot. But there is a danger of overdoing it, and profits come first. But this is not about capitalism per se, but just the culture that runs alongside it.

      I laugh when I hear radio ads or see a TV ad with alcohol and at the very end, in tiny print or quickly said “enjoy responsibly” is added (it’s law here in Ontario to add that). It’s an afterthought. But certainly you and I didn’t heed that advice…ha ha.

      Have a terrific weekend man!

  16. Great post Paul. You may be aware that I am a bit of an evangelist when it comes to these things. (Bit like a sober Billie Graham in pyjamas.)
    The normalisation of using alcohol to de-stress or to deal with life’s problems is at the core issue. Alcohol is a mind altering substance no matter how ‘normal’ it may seem in our society, it’s still a drug. Anne Dowsett Johnston explores this topic in great detail in her book ‘Drink-The deadly relationship between women and alcohol’. The drinks industry realised that they weren’t tapping into half of the population and the Alco pop was born. These days there are all sorts of drinks marketed directly at women; mommy juice, skinny bitch to name but a few. The stigma of being an alcoholic is bad enough it itself, add onto that the word mother and you have a recipe for banishment to the depths of hell. Mothers are supposed be to nurturing and ‘together’ Now add on top of all of this the drinks industry that somehow aligned themselves with the feminist movement and ‘drinking like a man’ became a woman’s rights issue. The ladette culture in the UK that I was a part of is a direct result of all of this. These seemingly harmless memes on facebook (that I used to post) make me sick to my stomach. It’s a sinister normalisation of what is quickly becoming an epidemic of mothers and women in general becoming alcohol dependant and ultimately addicted.

    1. Paul S says:

      You know, that book by Dowsett Johnston was one of the books I was thinking of when I was writing this. Her book is one of the more well known on this topic, but I know that there are others. And there are many fantastic articles written by women about this topic are out there, so I feel that I am just sitting at the feet of these authors and women as I wrote this. I am no expert, but it does bother me for the reasons you (and they) lay out so well.

      You are the second person here to mention the reality of being a mom and being banished or the butt of gossip, etc. if labelled an alcoholic. I never realized it was that bad. As a man, I have always bought into the perception that moms are very supportive of one another, blah blah blah but clearly that isn’t always the case! So now I understand more about the stigma within the stigma type deal. So thank you for that. And your comments are fantastic. I really appreciate the further insight.

      1. Oh yeah, ‘alcoholic mother’ is one of the the worst things you can be. These days I choose to surround myself with fewer friends. I’m very selective and only spend time with people I trust.

  17. Re: the comments about the drinks industry
    It’s not so much a matter of bashing the drinks industry or even alcohol the substance itself. Alcohol is a great teacher of truth. It promises to make you drunk and it delivers on its promise every time. What I am talking about among other things is the zeitgeist we find ourselves in where people have to drug/numb themselves constantly to deal with life. Maybe the ‘normal drinkers’ numb in other ways like food sex or shopping. It’s a spiritual hole that will never be filled by anything other than a spiritual life.

    1. Paul S says:

      Yes! The idea was not to bash the industry. They are doing what any business does – capitalize on an existing demographic, or in this case, tapping into an underutilized demographic. Bryan here in the comments talks about that in an interesting way. But I don’t harp on the companies. Booze will always be around, and there will always be someone selling it. But the romanticism that surrounds it is the big issue. I bought into for decades and I paid the price. Alcohol is an inert liquid. It doesn’t force itself down my throat. I put it there, and there are many mechanisms to get it there.

      And yes, I have discussed the idea countless times that while there are many folks out there who aren’t alcoholics or drug addicts, we are surrounded by people who are addicted to Netflix, or sugar, or shopping or any other sort of “acceptable” ways of numbing out. I always say that there is a difference between chilling out and numbing out. And for me, that void only needed to be filled by spiritual matters, as you mention. Many people will die never seeing that, but hopefully we can reach as many people and show them how we did it.

      Thanks again for this – I feel a kindred spirit here!

  18. jeffstroud says:

    You did a great job! I believe illuminating something allows others to begin to “wake up” to see around the fun and glamor etc. It may be the liquor industry and ad men trying to reach an audience that was not really there before. Giving the ladies the heads up, and I see you may allow them to know there is someone looking out for them.
    I have an issue of late of all the Casino’s opening and now you can gamble on your phone and laptop. There is Lottery/Casino ad where people are doing activities, like yoga, camping, and fishing where they are being told the could play to win, these are activities one does to get away from all of that or they use to…
    I suppose it means we continue to be an example of how to be present it the world without all the distraction to relax and let go!

    1. Paul S says:

      Thanks Jeff! I appreciate this greatly.
      You are right about tapping into a market that was not tapped into previously. But luckily there are many women who have raised the alarm about this for some time now, and hopefully more women are listening to this. (In general, the whole “it’s 5 o’clock somewhere” mentality is pervasive culturally along all lines).

      I haven’t heard about the online casino thing. This worries me too. Being connected so much is already a danger (we’re addicted to our phones) and like you said, even the small bastions of quiet and solitude are being infiltrated. What a shame.

      And yes, let’s continue to be those beacons, Jeff! You are to me with your photos and your kind words. Thanks again.

  19. Elizabeth says:

    My sister- in-law and I used to share all those “cute” FB posts about wine- I’m not at all comfortable doing that anymore and I’m not sure if they are getting worse or if I’m just more sensitized to the whole thing. What used to be funny to me is now kind of -“Whoa, really?” How many women (yes, women are the target these days) see this and see it as “permission”. Not so funny to me anymore. This is serious business- at least for me. Sometimes I feel like a stick in the mud but I know that is the “other” side talking. Thanks for a great post Paul.

  20. furtheron says:

    Officially in the UK the last AA census (2015) put membership at 60% male 40% female. In my local area in the last 13 years I’d say it has moved from say 75% / 25% to nearer 50/50 and in some meetings the ladies dominate now. And most women do seem to get that they have an issue about 10 years before men – again in my limited experience but most female newcomers I’d put in the range 35-45 .. men 40 – 55.

    I had a similar drink pattern myself – early evening the period from work to home the transition from work persona to home persona. Just the admission that I had to drink to change who I was just shows how I abused alcohol – it was the substitute me (plural actually). Now being just me in any situation is so totally liberating.

  21. Fabulous post! I was also a wine/ champagne girl maybe 5 years ago… (i am only 25 now) I used to work in the city centre and every night after work me and my girlfriends would go out for drinks and dancing … even my family worried about my drinking and I did not notice. I am now not a drinker and the thought does not turn me on. However exciting i used to find the feeling of having a drink or two… two can easily turn to ten. Thank you for posting ❤

    1. Paul S says:

      Thanks for this, Emily! Thanks for the read and comments! I can relate to the two = ten math. I don’t remember the last time I “just had one”drink and left it alone, even back in the days when I was 25 (oh, that was 21 years ago! Get my old man slippers and robe and get off my damn lawn!) But I am glad that you’re not there and focusing on staying healthy and stuff. I regret not having started this journey earlier, but we are where we are. Anyway, thanks again for this.


  22. Hi Paul! Just happened across your blog again and laughed aloud at this one. I quit one year before I retired. I was terrified of how early in the day my 5 o’clock would begin once I stopped working!! Seriously! Love you Paul.

    1. Paul S says:

      Aww thanks Trish! Love seeing you again after this time! My 5 o’clock was 5 am, so it was always party time…lol! Big hugs

  23. So incredibly spot on as usual! And thanks for the lolz you gave me with your captions. 🙂 This also makes me nuts. Self-love o clock is a fab idea! 😘

    1. Paul S says:

      Ha ha thanks K. I am glad you got a laugh in there as well. It’s fun to do. And yes, let’s keep self-love alive!

  24. It’s a catch-22, substance abuse is either normalized or stigmatized, neither one helps to bring awareness to the issues we face. Excellent post. All the best!

  25. I completely agree and I am woman, mother, stay at home mom. I feel like there’s some exclusive club for stay at home moms I’m not invited to, because I don’t drink. It bothers me when blogs or women talk about how we should just slurp down the day with a glass of wine. Or a shot for the weekend. It’s irritating, I don’t enjoy drinking and frankly I can think of more productive ways to wind down my day.

    1. Paul S says:

      Well said about having more productive ways of winding down the day! So many other avenues to refresh and recharge! Thanks for this!

  26. Interesting post, thanks for giving me lots to think about!

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