Today is Mothering Sunday in the UK. Across the nation, Mother’s Day cards are being opened, flowers delivered. Families are getting together to thank mums for everything they do. When addiction is the elephant in the room, however, Mother’s Day is often a harrowing reminder of what is missing or lost. Mother-child relationships suffer greatly when alcohol, drugs or addictive processes take hold.
Quite rightly, children of addicted parents are shown great compassion – there is no doubt close relatives are harmed by addiction, especially dependent children. But this Mother’s Day, we want to speak directly to mums who suffer from addiction. What is stopping you getting help to recover? The Addiction Helper team is here to take your call if you’re ready to talk. We provide free assessment, so we can recommend the best addiction treatment for your circumstances.
If you’re worried about picking up the phone, then please read on. In this blog, we’ll look at the common blocks to addiction recovery for mums in addiction. If you can relate, please try to speak to someone about what’s going on for you – whether that’s a friend or relative, Addiction Helper, your GP or a local support group. Recovery starts when you begin speaking out.
Mums in Addiction – Break Through Your Blocks and Find Recovery
Block 1: Worrying what will happen to your children
This is the number one fear of mums in addiction have. Even if you know addiction has beaten you, you’re probably still concerned for your children (especially if they live with you or you are the primary carer).
Some mums hold off getting treatment for addiction for this very reason. You might be worried about what will happen if you admit your addiction? Will it cause problems for your family? Who will look after your children if you need rehab treatment?
If you’re feeling like this, you’re probably pushing yourself to hold things together. Increasingly, however, you’re likely to feel under greater stress. Many mums try to power through addiction alone, but this strategy rarely pays off. Usually, it escalates addiction, as you put yourself under more pressure to handle things yourself.
Block 2: Blaming yourself for your addiction
Feeling guilty and ashamed about addiction is very common in all addicts – but this state of mind implies you blame yourself for developing an illness. Addiction is a progressive disease, not a moral failing. There are many factors that increase the likelihood of developing an addictive disorder – including your genetics and family history, experiencing trauma, your environment and the age you were first exposed.
Increasingly, addiction damages the way you think, feel your emotions and make decisions. Choice and control in addiction become limited or non-existent, as the physical and psychological cravings to use increase.
For mums in addiction, there’s often an added layer of guilt and shame – particularly if you have dependent children. You may be finding it harder and harder to take care of your kids. You may often feel angry, exhausted and overwhelmed. Perhaps your children now live somewhere else and you don’t see them very often. Or they’ve already left home to live, study or work independently. Your addiction may have spiralled as a response to your kids growing up and moving away. Many mums, whether or not they are addicts, feel regret about aspects of their parenting. For addicted mums, however, untreated shame usually compounds their addiction.
Whatever the situation, there is compassionate help in the UK and overseas for mums in addiction. You will not be judged for what you have or haven’t done as a mother. Treatment is the answer to addiction, not self-loathing or blame or better self-control. Specialist therapy and rehab programmes focus intensively on helping you understand your addictive processes, so you can create healthier habits and rebuild your life.
Block 3: Believing you can’t live without your addiction
Although you may be desperate to stop your addiction, many mums in addiction believe they cannot live without drugs, alcohol, an eating disorder or a compulsive process. They can’t picture a future without their dependence because it’s been a coping mechanism for years or even decades.
You might have found it impossible to quit drinking when you were pregnant, for example. Alcohol was always part of your life before pregnancy. There seemed to be lots of information available about why alcohol was harmful to your unborn baby – but hardly any support for you to reduce or stop drinking.
Without effective support, it’s prevalent for mums to pick up on messages in popular culture about mothers needing wine or gin to get through the day. While that’s okay for non-dependent drinkers, it’s the wrong kind of support for mums with an addiction to alcohol. It feeds into the myth that you need alcohol to be a parent – when as an addict, you need treatment to recover.
Block 4: Motherhood, Isolation, depression and addiction
It’s also really common for mums to feel isolated or develop post-natal depression. If you’ve experienced mental illness as a mum, it can be completely overwhelming. Trying to look after your children, while battling with loneliness or depression, is a daily struggle. You may be receiving medical help from your GP – but many mums don’t get any help at all.
If you’re self-medicating depression with alcohol, drugs, food addiction, compulsive spending, gambling or internet addiction, then this can be a block to getting addiction help. You can’t contemplate life without the habit you rely on to get through the day.
Block 5: Working mums fear loss of income
If you’re working and raising kids, it can feel like there will never be the right time for you to get help with addiction. Even if you can take some time off work – use your annual leave allowance or request some extra leave – you might fear what the addiction recovery process entails and whether your earnings will be affected.
Mums in Addiction – Your Recovery Matters
Putting your addiction recovery first is not only the best thing you can do for yourself – it’s the best thing you can do for your children too. This Mother’s Day, we want to encourage all mums in addiction to put your health needs first.
Although it’s frightening to consider telling people that you need addiction help, especially if you’re a mum of small children, it’s almost impossible to beat a severe addiction alone.
Addiction treatment will equip you with new strategies you can rely on when you have challenging times. You will find ways to process your fears, manage difficult emotions and develop supportive recovery networks – including connecting with other mums in recovery from addiction.
Perhaps you can’t imagine being away from your kids. While most rehabs in the UK and abroad can’t accommodate children, they do encourage family visits after a certain number of days in treatment. There are often family elements to the therapeutic programme too, where you can have family sessions with an addictions counsellor. This is useful when there are particular dynamics in family relationships that need to be addressed to support your recovery.
If it’s impossible to take time away from your family home or work, then outpatient addiction treatment can also be effective. It typically takes longer to uncover essential insights than intensive residential addiction programmes, but it’s available and adequate for committed clients.
Mums in addiction, please don’t suffer alone with a painful and punishing disease. Get in touch today with Addiction Helper for a confidential assessment and treatment choices.