In early April 2020, I found myself home with my five kids, trying to juggle my recovery coaching clients with my new role as homeschool teacher. At the same time, I was inundated by emails and DMs from moms who weren’t my typical clients.
Women and Alcohol: 3 Sobering Facts
- Women generally weigh less than men and have less water in their bodies, meaning the concentration of alcohol in their blood is higher after having the same number of drinks as a man.
- Women are less likely than men to receive treatment for alcohol-use disorders.
- Women who misuse alcohol are more likely to develop hepatitis, a liver disease, than men.
Source: National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.
Normally I worked with women whose stories resembled mine (read: pretty rock-bottom consequences), but these women reaching out had a different story. Most of them echoed the same sentiments: They had always considered themselves social drinkers, but now that they were not being social due to the pandemic, they were drinking more than ever and were concerned that they were drinking around their kids.
As we would find out later, statistics on drinking during the Covid-19 crisis showed that heavy alcohol use among women with children increased by 41 percent during the pandemic, as did alcoholic liver disease and other alcohol-related ailments. Women were turning to alcohol to cope more than ever.
Add to this the messaging around alcohol and moms (memes and jokes on social media about “mommy juice” and needing a vineyard to homeschool) and the fact that alcohol companies specifically targeted women with pink wine and single serve cans, there was a need for informed consent around alcohol in a big way.
I knew that I had to pivot my 1-on-1 coaching, and I knew that I wanted to be of service, but I didn’t quite know how. At this point so early in the pandemic, many recovery organizations shuttered and hadn’t yet moved to virtual meetings, including my personal homegroup.
So I took to social media, asked if anyone else in the recovery space wanted to lock arms and host a Zoom meeting or two. Fellow recovery advocate Celeste Yvonne was the first to raise her hand, along with a few others. I threw together a weekly Zoom meeting, sent out some details and expected a few women to show up.
The signup gathered 600 emails within a month.
Connecting Via Video
Every Wednesday afternoon, over Zoom, women connected over their shared frustration trying to balance work, home life and self-care with the ongoing weight of the pandemic. Having a group of mothers removed the unspoken belief that you’re not allowed to complain about motherhood or your children out of fear of not being appreciative or feeling blessed.
Kids were in the background, sitting on laps or being pushed in strollers while women connected, cried, vented or lent support. With security measures put in place (terms and conditions, protected passwords and guidelines for sharing, as most recovery meetings have), this was a safe space to come together without the pressure of those wine-mom jokes that were flooding social media at the time.
The Sober Mom Squad Platform
Each week, more and more women were showing up, and they were asking for more: more meetings, coaching, a message board that wasn’t Facebook — heck, how about a book club? I decided to invest in a platform that provided safety and security (choosing Mighty Networks Pro for its strong community- building platform and Zoom integration) and offered additional meetings for a small monthly fee to cover my cost, while still keeping the Wednesday meeting free.
Once again, women showed up in droves, and the Sober Mom Squad was born. Via a standalone app (through Mighty Pro), women can log in, attend meetings (they can stay anonymous if they’d like!), find geographical groups or affinity groups (like single moms, moms of babies, neurodivergent, etc.) attend a book club, receive writing prompts, join an EFT tapping session or plug in to a monthly expert webinar on wellness, parenting and other topics.
Sober Mom Squad focuses less on the negatives of alcohol and more on the positive benefits of living alcohol free or reducing use.
We have a mentorship program called Sober Mom SIS (Support in Sobriety) where newly sober women can connect with women who have extended time in sobriety. Moms can also connect with a trauma coach to help work on past issues related to their recovery, or take a course specifically designed to help make alcohol small and insignificant.
One of the themes in feedback we receive from moms is that Sober Mom Squad doesn’t prescribe any particular recovery program or pathway, and that is by design. We have moms who work AA, SMART Recovery, IOP, as well as those who don’t work any type of program, and everything in between. There is no one way that will work for everyone, yet everyone can benefit from a community.
Sober Mom Squad focuses less on the negatives of alcohol and more on the positive benefits of living alcohol free or reducing use. Coming from an abundance mindset, rather than a deprivation mindset, and removing any dogma of “the right way” to recover, the Sober Mom Squad is an inclusive group that celebrates all recovery paths.
There are no requirements to join Sober Mom Squad, other than being a mother and having the desire to live or explore an alcohol-free life. Mothers come in many forms, of course; bereaved moms, patiently waiting to be a mom, step-mom, bonus mom, empty nester. With a smartphone, iPad or computer, women can be plugged into a supportive community that can help make them feel less alone.
Connection is everything in recovery, and thanks to tech, moms can obtain it quickly and easily. Around 500 women participate in the Sober Mom Squad app community, while more than 3,000 have participated in the weekly free meeting. We have members from nine countries and every state in the United States. Though the pandemic seems like an old story, Sober Mom Squad has continued to grow and be a bedrock for moms in recovery.