As alcohol abuse is on the rise, some women are trying to take back control

Kristy Lee
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Updated:

(WBTS) — Stressed out moms often cope with life by pouring a glass of wine or two, or three.

We often see jokes about it all over social media.

But with the number of women abusing alcohol rising dramatically, some are trying to put a cork in it.

"It makes the stigma, the shame of being a mother who drinks that much deeper," Ellie Strong told NBC. "Because it seems as though everybody around you is able to drink, not only to drink but to almost brag."

Ellie Strong started drinking heavily after her daughter was born in 2002, and she decided not to return to work.

"I had this sort of profound feeling of sadness and loss that I didn't have my job, I didn't really understand my identity and motherhood," she said.

For years, she hid it well.

First wine, then vodka ... in the washing machine, in the trunk and in the water bottle.

Her attempts to cut back failed.

"And they would work, temporarily, maybe for a week or two. But the line that I had drawn, the rules that I had made just kept moving."

But then in 2007, her now ex-husband found her at her lowest.

"He came home one day and I was passed out and with empty bottles around the house and he said that's it, you've gotta stop," Strong said.

Ellie is not alone.

"Alcohol misuse disorder has tripled among women born after 1960, compared to women born before 1960," Dr. John Kelly said.

Dr. Kelly of the Center for Addiction Medicine is an expert on alcohol use disorder, formally called alcoholism.

"So they find alcohol helps them to relax, it's a reward for them so they are using it more and more," he said.

While most women can control their drinking, some cannot because of genetic and physiological factors as well as mental and emotional health issues.

Dr. Kelly says in the past 15 years, heavy use or addiction has increased 60 percent among women.

If you suspect you have a problem, he suggests the national institutes of health self-assessment.

"Get some personalized feedback on the level of alcohol consumption. So that's anonymous, you don't have to worry about going and talking to anybody at that point, just get some feedback."

Ellie sought help online, but what clicked for her was going to a 12-step recovery meeting.

"When I sat down in the chair, the first person who spoke was a woman and a mother," she said. "She shared her story and it sounded just like mine."