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Recovering Alcoholic Mothers

There are more than two-and-a-half million women alcoholics in America, and many of them are mothers.

Two bravely shared their struggles with ABC 7 in the hopes that other moms will get the help that can save them and their families

Rebecca Zimmerman was 77 days sober when ABC 7’s Greta Kreuz visited her and daughter Mimi.

Her family had seemed picture-perfect: a loving husband who worked nights, 3-year-old twins, and her own consulting business. But her best friend was alcohol.

“I would drink at least five nights out of 7, and I would drink easily two bottles of wine and a 4-pack of beer,” Zimmerman recalled, admitting that she would drink when she was home with her children while her husband worked. “I thought I was doing a fine job — I did!” she recalled. “I was bathing them, I was going grocery shopping.”

Amy, who’s 14 months into recovery, also admits to being an alcoholic mother.

“Being a stay-at-home mom, in particular with young children, it can be very isolating,” said Amy, who didn’t want her last name or photo used. “There was one time when I was drinking and I was reading to my son and I passed out in his bed next to him.”

“I just felt so alone and desperate and depressed,” she added. “I didn’t want my husband to know I was drinking. It was also the aspect of having to hide it from him.”

Experts say mothers are masters at keeping their addiction secret: hiding bottles in toilet tanks, diaper bags and sometimes filling baby bottles with vodka, or whiskey that passes for apple juice. Some even wrap booze in butcher paper and hide it in the freezer.

At Father Martin’s Ashley in-patient treatment center in Havre de Grace, Maryland, nursing director Charlotte Meck told ABC 7 that mothers are the least likely to seek help, because they are afraid to leave — or lose — their children.

“If they’re separated or divorced, [they’re worried] their husband or ex-husband will use that against them for child custody,” Meck explained. “They’re just very frightened, and full of shame.”

Meck adds mothers must realize they have an illness and need professional help. That’s where places like Fr. Martin Ashley’s come in, helping mothers find the self-respect to stop.

“Addiction is a disease. You’re not a bad person,” said Meck. “When you leave here, you’re going to have the tools to stay sober for the rest of your life.”

Treatment runs the gamut: from $20,000-plus for a 28-day in-patient program — which insurance may cover — to free Alcoholics Anonymous meetings.

But alcoholism is a family disease, and for Rebecca Zimmerman, once numb with booze, sobriety has brought new hope, and a new connection with her children.

“I mean, they’re just all over me,” she said. “And that wasn’t the way it was before. They were like, ‘Hi, Mom.’ Now they’re a lot more loving. There’s not a distance between us anymore. It makes me feel very good.”

source: ABC 7 News

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