n Gender and Behaviour - 'Bad' mothers have alcohol use disorder : moral panic or brief intervention?

Volume 12, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1596-9231



Societal norms and values take on moral panic and tend to label mothers who drink heavily as 'bad' mothers. This manuscript presents a human scientific approach to access life stories about South African mothers' who had a heavy drinking problem and their barriers to accessing treatment. The data were analysed using the discourse analytic approach while the social constructionist theory was used to frame the research. Findings indicate that besides feeling like bad mothers and being rejected by society because they drink, women internalized a negative gender script that embodied experiences of shame, stigma, guilt and secrecy that contributed to barriers to seeking treatment. Policy suggestions are made to the South African National Department of Health to encourage primary healthcare providers to conduct brief interventions with mothers who have alcohol use disorder to reduce incidence of child maltreatment and fetal alcohol syndrome with the expectation of improving maternal health.

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