“Cocktail Moms”: Alcoholism Among Women Rising

Almost 2.5 million women are alcoholics, and many of them are busy juggling families and careers. ABC 7’s Health Specialist Denise Dador takes a look at how these "cocktail moms" go from happy hour to addiction.

"I had become a functioning alcoholic," said Heather Fanning, a recovering alcoholic.
Fanning says she’s lucky her drinking didn’t kill her or anyone else. "Around my house there would be alcohol stashed every where, and I’d drink when people weren’t watching," said Fanning.

At her worst, Fanning was drinking three shots of vodka, 10 beers, and two glasses of wine every day, all while holding down a job and raising a son.

According to a federal study, the number of women between 30 and 44 who reported abusing alcohol doubled over the past decade. The number of women arrested for DUI is up almost 30 percent.

Psychologist Barbara Kelly says families need to look past the stereotype of the old man on the barstool and look more closely for signs of a functioning alcoholic. Some of the warning signs include always thinking about the next drink, behaving in ways that are uncharacteristic, and having trouble controlling alcohol intake.

"They hide the alcohol in places that they know people wouldn’t typically look for it," said Kelly." Sometimes they hide it in the nursery where their baby sleeps."

Stay-at-home mom Michelle McClennen kept an immaculate home, took care of her two kids, and still managed to juggle daily drinking.

"It was one of these huge goblets that became so in style a few years ago. It was more than half a bottle of wine, but to me I felt like I was having one glass of wine," said McClennen. "So I’d put the roast in the oven and I’d go out into the driveway with my daughter with the glass of wine in my hand."

Her nights out with other moms became her excuse. "We’d go to jewelry making parties to Tupperware parties," said McClennen. "There was also Bunko, a dice rolling game, that’s actually called Drunko, because you definitely drink a lot."

Fanning found help through an inpatient addiction treatment center. Both McClennen and Fanning say that admitting they needed help was the toughest part. "It’s the socially acceptable sleeping giant that nobody’s going to say anything," said McClennen.