The Slippery Slope of Alcohol and Stress
With the latest craft beer and wine trend, it’s not uncommon to find women imbibing alcohol to let off some steam. Many women, however, have found themselves in the surprising place of “needing” alcohol to wind down vs. “enjoying” it with friends.
“What started out as a way to kick off my heels with some other moms became a weekly habit before I knew it,” says Amber, a spunky, bright eyed mom in her early 30’s. “Oh, sure, we all made a big deal about the ‘community’ aspect of our Friday night soirees, but the truth was, we never hung out without liquor. For me, the final straw came when I arrived home one night with my kids and realized, ‘Holy schmoly… I’m totally buzzed.’ I could have killed them.”
For Amber, it was a sobering experience – literally. She sought help at AA and has been alcohol free for five years. “It took me a while to adjust to this ‘no drinking’ idea,” Amber said, “But after a while, I realized I had waaaay more of a community with my AA group of open, honest women – all who were looking to better themselves – than I ever had with my moms from school. I am healthier, stronger and sooo much wiser. As a Christian, too, going to my ‘higher power’ really helped me lean into Jesus for strength, not the bottle.”
What about You?
How do you feel, readers, about alcohol? Are you able to enjoy a glass or two once in a while, or do you find you are always craving more? For Amber, one was one too many, one more was never enough. And really, she never expected it. ”I wasn’t one of those falling down drunks. I didn’t think I needed the label ‘alcoholic.’ But for me, it was as much a thinking problem as a drinking problem. I encourage any woman who has the desire to live a fuller life to consider their habits. Alcohol doesn’t discriminate – Christians, Jews, secular… we’re all suseceptile to the disease.”
How Bad Is Drinking for You, Really?
Is having a glass or two of wine with dinner, before bed or at a social gathering a bad thing? After all, even Jesus and His Disciples enjoyed some vino at the last supper. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), no. If you are going to drink, the AHA recommends doing so in moderation, and considers a drink for women and two drinks for men A-OK (that’s 4 oz. of wine per glass). If you’re consuming it in moderation, chances are, your wino ways aren’t getting in the way of your day-to-day.
What about The “Health Benefits?”
That said, like all good things in life, it’s possible to have too much of a good thing. “But,” you may think, “I’ve heard so many things about the health benefits of drinking wine!” Yes, we’ve all heard of the various “health benefits” associated with wine (red wine, in particular): it has antioxidants, flavonoids, resveratrol and…”other stuff” that can promote heart health. Sounds good, drink up! Right? Not necessarily.
Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise. —Proverbs 20:1
Again, while the AHA notes that drinking in moderation is acceptable, many doctors are hesitant to actually go out and start encouraging that their patients start hitting the (red wine) bottle.
Harvard researcher Eric Rimm, DrS, notes, “There is a misperception that red wine is abundant in antioxidants. It does contain some, but they are not always well absorbed. If you want antioxidants, you are better off eating a spinach salad with vegetables than drinking a glass of red wine.”
When It Becomes a Problem
While fine in moderation, it’s also important to note that wine is a mind-altering substance that can be abused like any other alcohol. For instance, in most cases, solitary drinking (drinking alone) is often thought of as a prelude to a problem concerning alcohol consumption. This rule is the same with wine consumption. If you find yourself consistently drinking wine while alone, you may want to re-evaluate your wine-drinking habits.
Another red flag: you can’t have fun unless there’s a wine glass in your hand. While enjoying a glass of wine during a party is completely acceptable, your night should revolve around good conversation, food and laughter. If instead you find yourself preoccupied with refilling your glass, you may need to slow down.
It’s also important to note that not everyone can consume wine in a manner that allows them to adhere to their own true nature or personality. Too often, people can turn angry or emotional under the influence of alcohol. Even those who can usually be steadfast in their judgment can have a change in their nature when they consume in excess.
But they also have erred through wine, and through strong drink are out of the way; the priest and the prophet have erred through strong drink, they are swallowed up on wine, they are out of the way through strong drink; they err in vision, they stumble in judgment. —Isaiah 28:7
So, if you’re a lover of wine and enjoy a glass here and there, cheers! Just don’t go overboard. If you’re someone who doesn’t care for the stuff, there’s no reason to start drinking wine now just for the supposed health benefits. People looking to start a heart healthy diet can get plenty of antioxidants in fruits and veggies.