A mother is obligated to her children more than she is bound to anything else. If addiction to drugs and alcohol holds her back from the love she has for her children, it brings neglect not only toward the care of herself but also her kids. Addiction takes all of the time, attention, and resources that should be focused on daily life. This is not only detrimental to a family structure but also unborn babies and young, developing children. As such, mothers often need a specific type of help to get over addiction. What are some ways that recovery services and addiction treatment programs can help mothers in recovery?
A single mother raises one in every four children under 18 years old in the U.S. Generally, there are more single mothers than single fathers everywhere in the world – which is more reason why mothers need help to get back to raising children. Again, alcoholism and drug use affect mothers differently than it affects other people.
Unique Challenges for Mothers in Recovery
While being a mother naturally makes one more caring and responsible, mothers are not immune to a substance use disorder. In the busy schedules to keep the family together, a mother might find herself not knowing how to cope or maybe even getting into unhealthy habits. In most cases, addiction starts as a self-medicated prescription for pain or anxiety. The use of a substance to soothe the pain becomes a habit, and that habit leads to addiction. Many mothers will struggle with issues such as:
- Low self-esteem
- Unhappy marriages
- The pressure to do it all
- Lack of purpose or meaning
- Boredom and loneliness, especially for stay-at-home moms
- Depression and anxiety
- Past traumas
- Financial challenges
With any of the above issues, a person is more likely to turn to drug use or alcohol abuse. Once they do, mothers find it challenging to admit that they have a drug use issue as they do not want the shame that comes with it– especially if they have young children or are pregnant. These barriers to recovery are what make moms need even more support during recovery! Nobody should be shamed when seeking help for themselves.
Some obstacles to moms in recovery include:
Time with kids – A mom does not want to spend time away from her children. As such, she might avoid rehab or recovery homes and instead try walking the recovery journey on her own. The mother will, therefore, need help with the kids of social support during the recovery journey at home.
Cost of rehab – While the cost of rehab can bring uncertainty or anxiety for any addict, it is more challenging for mothers with children or pregnant mothers. The cost of not getting help is bigger than that of rehab, especially for an expectant mother – which is more reason for the mother to get help. Being addicted to drugs while pregnant causes severe risk, not only to the woman who is pregnant but also to the baby and its future development.
Societal Stigma – Mothers with addiction are often socially stigmatized. For mothers, addiction is not seen as a disease but as an issue with their character and will power. A lot of people misunderstand addiction and think a woman is “evil”, heartless, or overall unfit to be a mom. But these statements are not the truth of the situation. The truth is, society in general needs to help mothers in recovery more, instead of casting them aside as “failures”. Providing ample help and support would help reaching out for help more possible.
Risks of Drug Addiction During Pregnancy
Drug use in the U.S. is common among women of childbearing age. However, the use of illegal drugs such as cocaine and alcohol can be detrimental, and sometimes life-threatening, to a fetus.
When a mother engages in drugs during pregnancy, they expose themselves to diseases as risks such as anemia, heart disease, skin infections, and hepatitis, among other infectious diseases. They also present themselves to sexually transmitted diseases. When taken, drugs find their way into the bloodstream of the fetus through the placenta. An extended period of use will not only make the mother addicted, but the baby will also be an addict.
Drugs such as marijuana find their way into the baby’s system and might cause mental or behavioral issues later on. Cocaine use increases the chances of a miscarriage, high blood pressure, preterm delivery, and stillbirth. Children born to mothers who abuse cocaine will likely be underweight and are at an increased risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Other effects of cocaine and drugs to the baby include:
- Stunted growth
- Hyperactivity in childhood years
- Behavioral problems for life
- Learning difficulties
Using meth and dextrose (methamphetamine and dextroamphetamine respectively) can result in a miscarriage or preterm birth. A baby born of an addict mother experiences withdrawal symptoms such as insomnia, trouble feeding, and jitteriness. Later, the baby might experience tremors and muscle tones.
Heroin and opiates used by pregnant mothers cause significant withdrawal in the baby once it’s born. An infant’s withdrawal symptoms can last for several weeks or months after the baby is born. Babies born to a mother addicted to opiates are likely to suffer apnea (to stop breathing) or sudden infant death syndrome. The babies might also have difficulties feeding. However, if a mother stops her drug use before or during her first trimester, they have high chances of delivering a healthy baby.
Types of Addiction Treatment Available for Pregnant Women and Mothers
Addiction treatment for pregnant women and mothers is as comprehensive as any other addiction treatment. However, mothers might need special social support to get them through the addiction. Comprehensive treatment may involve:
- Pregnancy education and counseling
- Parenting skills training
- Therapy (individual, group, and family therapy)
- Assessment and treatment of co-occurring disorders (mental health disorders + addiction)
- 12-step programs
- Prenatal care
- Life skills training
- Recovery coaching
- Aftercare planning
Depending on the unique case of a mother or pregnant woman, licensed treatment facilities that work with mothers can design a unique program that succinctly meets her needs to recover.
Rehab for Pregnant Women
Getting help is advantageous to the mother as it is to the child. Besides ensuring that a baby is born healthy, addiction help ensures that a mother’s physical and mental states are restored. During detox, all the drugs in the system clear out from her body. Mothers with poor nutrition and insufficient hydration are given the proper nutritional care to sustain a healthy pregnancy.
Besides the detox and therapy, pregnant women and mothers have access to a psychological and support system from nurses, doctors, case management social workers, and therapists. Those recovering at home need help from friends and family members. Mothers also get access to medical services such as prenatal care.
If recovering from long-term opioid addiction, Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) might be used. Certain medications help, like, buprenorphine, are FDA approved and help manage withdrawal symptoms. The two drugs allow a patient to go through pregnancy without any complications and severe withdrawal symptoms.
Another drug that mothers addicted to opiates get is suboxone. According to research, Suboxone is seen to have better results and is more available for mothers.
Why Do Mothers Need Urgent Help?
Unlike in the case of men addicts, mothers and pregnant women need to be home to their children. Again, when a mother has very young children, some of who are still breastfeeding, they need to be as close to them as possible. Children often cannot stay at a treatment center with their mom because the rehab center is not built for children. If a mother gives birth during recovery in a rehab or recovery house, they might need natal care beyond the scope of the treatment facility.
How Can Family and Friends Help Mothers in Recovery?
Substance abuse and addiction cause damages to families. When a mother is addicted, family trust erodes and communication weakens. In most cases, mothers bring families together – but in the case of addiction, they need help from everyone around them.
Family and friends can help a mother attain sobriety faster than the mother could anywhere else. The family acts as a strong encouragement for the mother or pregnant woman recovering from substance use and addiction. Friends and family take roles and work together towards helping the recovering mother. These roles include:
- Providing for the financial needs of the mother and her children
- Keeping the mother company
- Offering social support as the mother goes through recovery
- Encouraging the mother to take firm action to free themselves from the captivity of drugs
A family acts as a second recovery home for the mother. Friends and family members can help monitor the care and nurturing she is giving herself and the child. They also need to orient the mother back into society by teaching simple life skills they may have lost during the addiction phase.
Family Support for Teenage Mothers
Underage pregnancies are not so uncommon, and so is drug use among adolescents. Because most teens are still under parental care, giving them full social, emotional, and spiritual support during recovery will help them stay sober. Again, teens might know how one gets pregnant but not how to take care of a pregnancy or a baby. As such, besides therapy and detox, teens need to learn more about childcare, whether in a rehab center or at home.
Strong social support at home will help a teen during recovery and ensure the baby is born healthy. Nevertheless, there is a lot of frustration and finger-pointing when a teenage abuses drugs and gets pregnant at the same time – a situation that can cause depression to parents causing them to abuse drugs. This is where friends come in and offer help.
Hope for Moms Recovering from Addiction
In some states in the U.S., drug use during pregnancy is a criminal offense. Mothers are tested for drugs during prenatal clinic visits and forced into rehab centers to save the lives of babies. For mothers with young children, abusing drugs might be considering going against child rights. Granted, a mother needs to find help for addiction disorder as fast as possible. Support comes in the form of addiction treatment centers (where they detox, get counseled, and manage withdrawal symptoms), friends, and family members.
If you need to get treatment for addiction and are pregnant, raising children, or know a mother who wants to recovery from drugs and alcohol, get help today.