Personal Accounts of Mothers' Use of Social Media to Support Abstinence from Alcohol

Suzanne McGarva, Tony Machin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Alcohol consumption by professional educated women and mothers is rising. Drinking alcohol in the home is, for many, becoming a normalised and daily ritual. Previous research focuses on causality, risk factors and health related damage. Few studies focus on mothers of school age children specifically or why some mothers pursue and sustain alcohol free lives. The role of social media in enacting and sustaining abstinence is under researched, as are other factors important for this group in remaining abstinent.

Aims: This qualitative study explored the reasons why mothers drank alcohol, and factors contributing to their decision to become alcohol free. It also explored the value and utility of social media in the form of a specific web-site aimed at providing support in abstinence.

Methods: Six UK mothers with school age children who had become abstinent after previously drinking over official limits were recruited via a social network website and interviewed. Transcripts were analysed thematically and inductive themes emerged.

Results: Participants used alcohol to self-medicate, as a reward/relaxation strategy and because it was a normal part of their professional and daily lives. Reported reasons for abstinence included the negative effects alcohol had upon lives, inability to moderate/drink within guidelines and “trigger” events. Participants reported that their use of social media was inspirational, giving them a platform to share stories and help others and was preferred to traditional support. The use of social media in this way represented a supportive community and assisted vigilance toward the danger of relapse. Positive parenting identity, alternatives to alcohol, abstinence rewards and support from abstinent others were all factors in sustaining abstinence.

Conclusions: Health professionals should recognise this hidden and hard to reach group and the potential efficacy of social media in assisting recovery from alcohol related issues.
Original languageEnglish
Article number80962
Pages (from-to)67-80
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Biosciences and Medicines
Issue number12
Early online date11 Dec 2017
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 11 Dec 2017


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