Mom Kept Drinking Secret From Loved Ones

Leaving demanding career in politics, stay-at-home mom's drinking picks up pace.

ByABC News
April 30, 2010, 1:10 PM

April 30, 2010— -- Tina, a stay-at-home mom from Washington, D.C., has admitted what many women all over the country are realizing about their own lives -- her drinking has become unmanageable.

Last year, on any typical morning, Tina, 43, could be found going through the same routine as so many mothers, getting her kids ready for the day. But she had a secret. Her coffee mug was filled with wine.

For Tina, the everyday stresses and worries of modern day motherhood masked the painful and dangerous secret of alcoholism. After leaving a demanding career in politics to spend more time with her children, Tina began to miss the frenetic pace of her professional life and her drinking increased.

"I didn't realize how much I would miss it, and how much your self-esteem and your self-worth comes from your job," Tina told "20/20's" Elizabeth Vargas. "Nobody pats you on the back and says, 'Wow, that laundry looks great.'"

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Soon, a few glasses of wine at night became a bottle or more and then drinking spilled into other parts of the day. Tina said that when her kids' school let out, some of the moms gathered for drinks.

"It was mommy social happy hour while the kids played," said Tina, who asked only her first name be used for privacy reasons. "It was kids running around screaming, so it takes the edge off the screaming."

But Tina took things one step further, surprising even herself with cravings for wine in the morning.

"It happens so quickly that you don't see it coming. You just wake up one morning and you're like, 'Oh my God, you know, why are my hands shaky,' or 'Why do I have this strong urge to have a glass of wine? It's 9:30 in the morning, are you kidding me?'" Tina said.

Tina continued to find ways to rationalize her drinking.

"I tend to justify things, like, 'Oh, it's been a really long day, It's been a really hard day, I'm really stressed out, that's why I'm going to have a drink.' Or, so-and-so upset me today, so I started to drink at things," Tina said.

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse, one third of the alcoholics in this country are women. Overwhelmingly, the women "20/20" spoke to preferred wine to liquor as their drink of choice.