The Mommy Juice Culture - Part 2

BANGOR, Maine (WABI) - Moms and wine.

It's a combination society has sanctioned as normal.

For women who struggle with a drinking problem, though, the idea encourages a lifestyle that can be dangerous.

It's hard to avoid the social media messages that tell moms a glass of wine will get you through the challenges of raising children and juggling life.

For Haley Beem, those messages helped push her to point of brokenness.

"I've been a single mom since my son was three months old. So very much trying to juggle parenting, trying to juggle work and paying bills, among other things, having a social life. Which when my son was younger was a lot of drinking."

That drinking caused a lot of problems for Beem, even sending her to jail four times.

But it wasn't until about five years ago that she accepted her alcoholism.

"I started school for my bachelor's in mental health and human services, and at the time I was still drinking. My idea was I wanted to help people not go where I went.

Beem says the media messages for stressed out moms are strong.

"It's a lot about having a glass of wine because you deserve it. And when I look at that today, I remember feeling that way and thinking that way and behaving that way. When I look at it today, it kind of makes me sad when I think about rewarding ourselves for all the hard work, being a mom and juggling everything, that we think about something like alcohol."

Beem is now celebrating four and a half years of sobriety - even as society works against her and others she helps as a licensed alcohol and drug counselor.

"Part of being an alcoholic, part of having an addiction, is a constant vigilance of keeping track of your thoughts. Because when you're really stressed out, one of the thoughts that sometimes comes up is I could just drink and I don't have to feel this right now. So when you're constantly bombarded, whether it's TV, social media, movies, or whatever, it kind of feeds that thought process."

":By the time I'm questioning whether or not there's reason to be concerned, I should be concerned."

Jim LaPierre is the Executive Director of Higher Ground Services in Brewer.

"It doesn't mean that I have a problem or an addiction. It means that I'm using a chemical substance to cope with stress and negative emotions. We want folks to have an awareness of how they use alcohol, not just how often they drink or how much, but why they drink. And what that provides for them.

He says self assessment is a good place to start.

"Take an honest look at your life, and do you have some kind of balance. What's missing, what do you need to add, what are you doing too much of, what are the standards that you're holding yourself to and are they realistic?

LaPierre says society needs to assess itself, too, to stop the bombardment of the wine mom images.

"We absolutely can change that culture. And the societal expectation of a self-made woman, the woman who is able to fulfill all of those roles, do them all successfully, needs to be debunked."

"Little by little, we change that a lot," says Beem.

Removing the stigma of alcoholism is also important Beem says, to help moms realize they don't need wine to be the woman they want to be.

"I like my life. And I very much know that if I was to even take one drink that pretty much all of it would disappear."

Beem says she's learned there are better ways to reward herself for her hard work as mom - like a well-deserved vacation with her son or even hitting the rink for a round of roller derby with her team.

If you're concerned about alcohol use, you can contact the Bangor Area Recovery Network (BARN). It's located at 142 Center Street in Brewer. Call 561-9444 or log on to www.bangorrecovery.org

We've also linked to some easy self tests to see if you need to ask for help. See the right hand side of this page.