Sobriety is not a topic you would immediately expect to see when it comes to motherhood, but maybe it should be. Stigmas around alcoholism and motherhood, and misconceptions around sobriety may be to blame. Regardless, the topic is an important one that needs to be brought to the forefront more often.
A 2020 study conducted by the nonprofit RTI International for the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism found that during the pandemic,
“Moms with young children increased their alcohol consumption by 325% between the start of the pandemic and the end of 2020.”
And I’m sure this increase hasn’t slowed down as we all continue to grapple with the aftermath of the past two years in our own way.
Let’s Talk About It
So, let’s talk about it. Motherhood and sobriety. What do we do with a stat like the one above? What is it like for those who are on a sobriety journey or want to start one? More importantly, how can we as moms increase our knowledge and advocate for other moms who need our support and not our judgment? I don’t have all the right answers to those questions, but I do have a story to share of one local mom’s sobriety journey that may help.
I reached out to my wonderful friend Tara and asked her if she could share her sobriety journey with us. My hope is that as you hear her story, you will come away more open-minded, more empathetic, and perhaps inspired to take on a sobriety journey of your own. Let’s meet Tara!
Tara Campbell is a wife and mom who lives in North Dallas with her husband and 12-year-old son. She is an executive in the commercial banking industry by day. When she’s not working and hanging out with her family, you might find her on her Peloton, hanging out with girlfriends, or walking her dog Casper. She is a Beyonce fan, Bridgerton stan, and is eagerly anticipating her 1/6 Wordle win. Tara is a recovering alcoholic who recently celebrated 21 years of sobriety.
Has motherhood had a major influence on your sobriety journey? If yes, how so?
I was nine years sober when I had my son. Motherhood changed my sobriety journey for the better. I am grateful I had the opportunity to become sober before starting a family. First-time motherhood—and motherhood in general—can be a challenge. My sobriety journey gave me the tools to handle the challenges with healthy coping mechanisms. My son absolutely leveled out my relationship with sobriety and helped me find balance.
How do you manage the “Mommy Juice/Rise & Wine” pop culture that is fueled and sometimes encouraged by society?
This is a tough one. It feels like this culture has been more amplified in recent years; I don’t remember it being quite as loud when my son was born. I truly don’t wrestle with the pop culture piece of it too much. I’ll just pass over the merchandise, memes, and jokes when I’m out in the world. The hardest part can be in groups when this is a chosen “theme” for a party or gathering I’ve been invited to; everyone is on board but me. I’m secure enough to not join in, but every now and then I can feel a bit “other” in these types of scenarios. The best way I’ve found to care for myself is to stand to what’s true in me and remove myself from the scenario if I’m uncomfortable.
How have your social circles/activities changed since starting your journey? Have you experienced any social stigma because of your sobriety?
For me, it was necessary to find new people and activities for a healthier outlook. Over the years, I have been blessed with a solid group of friends who support and love me, and not all of them are in recovery. I’ve found that the quote “Water seeks its own level” has held true to me as I’ve ventured to lead a life of integrity and value. As I have done that, I have noticed the quality of people around me has risen as well.
In new sobriety, finding new activities can be the difficult part—if we don’t meet for drinks, what do we do? Turns out, there are a ton of ways to spend time with people, whether it’s a walk and talk, hot tea and scones, or just a night on the couch binging our favorite shows. I’ve been lucky to not have experienced much social stigma because of my sobriety. I’ve been amazed in the last handful of years as I’ve seen people trying sobriety out, even if just for short stretches, and it’s much more acceptable than it was even when I started. It exists. I’m not naïve enough to believe no one has an opinion on this, but my overall experience has been positive.
What is one thing you would like other moms to know/be educated on about moms who are on a sobriety journey?
The most important thing I can say here is that someone’s personal sobriety journey is not your business. “I am not drinking” is a complete sentence. When you spend time with someone who isn’t drinking right now, the most loving thing you can do is allow that person their own space to decide if and how much they want to share. Beginning a journey with sobriety is a very difficult and personal experience that takes an incredible amount of strength, so please be considerate of what it takes for someone to just say “I’m not drinking” out loud.
What advice would you give a mom who wants to start a sobriety journey? Or a mom who has fallen off but wants to start over and doesn’t think she can?
I’m not big on issuing advice, but I will share from my own experience here. When I started my sobriety journey, I was young and so unsure that I could truly stop drinking forever. Thankfully, I was introduced to the idea of staying sober just one day at a time, just for right now, and that has helped me in so many ways since that first day. There are many resources out there for people considering sobriety in any form, so I would encourage looking for support in whatever method feels good to you. In most forms of recovery, it’s extremely effective when supported by others who have shared your experiences.
For a mom that has fallen off and wants to start over: You absolutely can. Yes, stringing together a long stretch of sobriety is something to celebrate—but I am so impressed with people who slip and come back, and come back, and come back. Don’t give up. You are worthy of the life you want, no matter how many times it takes to get you there. I’m rooting for you!
We are rooting for you, too!
I’m grateful that Tara gave me the opportunity to share her story. She truly inspires me with the way she leads her life so authentically. Whatever stage you’re at on your own sobriety journey, please know that you are not alone. Your fellow mamas are cheering you on. If you are looking for a place to start, check out your local Alcoholics Anonymous program or Women for Sobriety program for assistance and resources.