In 2011, the Annie E. Casey Foundation reported that 35 percent of children in the United States were living with only one parent. While some of these children were living with their fathers, the vast majority of single-parent households are run by women. Raising a child alone can be rewarding, both for the parent and for the child, but handling all childcare tasks alone can also place a tremendous amount of pressure on a parent, and some single mothers turn to drugs for relief.
While drugs might help these single mothers to handle their concerns temporarily, ongoing drug addiction can be catastrophic, both for a mother and her children. Drug rehab programs for single mothers can help to resolve the damage, allowing a mother and her children to heal together and develop tight bonds of love and understanding.
Payment and Unemployment
While some single women can rely on child support payments from their former partners, allowing them to stay financially afloat despite their single status, many women who raise their children alone are also required to cover all of their own expenses, as well as the expenses of their children. During times of financial plenty, women might easily find jobs that allow them to pay their bills, but when jobs are scarce, women in single households might be plunged into poverty. Jobs might be scarce, and women might be forced to look for specific attributes in their potential employers that other people might not even need to consider. For example, they might look for jobs that don’t require travel, odd shift times or low benefits. These restrictions can keep some women out of the job market entirely.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the percentage of single mothers who are employed has dropped from 76 percent in 2000 to 68 percent in 2010, possibly due to job cuts and the particular demands single mothers face.
Single mothers also struggle with issues of childcare as they contemplate getting help for their addictions. According to the National Survey of Substance Abuse Treatment Services, only about 14 percent of addiction treatment facilities provide treatment programs both for mothers and for their children. This means that mothers are often required to place their children with family members or friends as they work on their addiction issues. Since they can’t bring their children with them to the facility, they’ll need outside help. Some mothers choose to participate in outpatient programs for drug addiction, so they can continue to care for their children in the evenings and on weekends. Family members might need to assist from time to time, depending on the woman’s treatment schedule, but much of the basic caregiving could be handled by the woman as she’s still living at home, if she accepts outpatient care.
- Feed the children
- Clean the home
- Handle household bills
- Deal with teachers and coaches
- Provide emotional support to her children
Some mothers find that they simply cannot handle all of these tasks and still have the energy to deal with their own healing. By entering a residential program, these women might feel their stress levels begin to ease. They’ll have their meals prepared for them, and the cleaning and bill-paying tasks will also be handled by someone else. These women can just focus on getting better, and then they can return to their job of motherhood.
Most addiction treatment programs work hard to help addicted people understand how their addictions developed. Often, these discussions revolve around issues of mental illness. Underlying depression, anxiety or dysfunction can lead to inner pain that people attempt to heal through their use of drugs or alcohol. It can be a difficult cycle to break without therapy. Single mothers aren’t immune from developing these types of mental illnesses. For example, a study in the American Journal of Orthopsychiatry found that depression in drug-dependent mothers was attached to the belief that these moms had a lack of support in their everyday life. These mothers felt alone and adrift, and they used drugs to help them cope with these feelings. In a drug rehab program, these women might have the opportunity to address their inner pain, and they might learn how to cope with those issues without resorting to drug use.
Programs that can address both an addiction and a mental illness are often called dual diagnosis programs.
The treatments are integrated, meaning that a woman receives care for both issues at the same time. Instead of spending time with one mental health counselor for an addiction, and then switching to another counselor for a mental health issue, the woman works with one treatment team on both issues at once. All of her counseling sessions address both of her issues, providing her with a complete view and a complete healing experience. A woman’s treatment program in a facility like this might include:
- Individual therapy
- Group therapy
- Support group meetings
Single mothers who abuse drugs aren’t necessarily doomed to raise children who also use drugs.
In fact, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reports that 6.1 million children live in two-parent households, with one or both parents experiencing an alcohol use disorder in the year prior.
In some cases, living with a single parent is preferable, especially if the parenting couple tends to fight or engage in other unhealthy activities. These households can be quite stressful for children to grow up in, and living with just one healthy parent can reduce those feelings of stress and anxiety children might feel.
Some parents, however, have difficulty raising their children alone, and they may even become abusive to their children. According to research quoted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, these parents tend to:
- Find raising a child to be difficult, not enjoyable
- Control their children, instead of helping them to become individuals
- Isolate their children
- Have unpleasant interactions with their children
- Use less affection with their children
Children in households like this might grow up to abuse and torment their own children, or they might also turn to drugs or alcohol to ease their distress at the abuse they’ve endured. In order to break this cycle, some drug rehab programs for single mothers provide parenting classes. Here, mothers learn how to respect the autonomy of their children, encouraging them to grow and develop at their own pace.
Mothers might learn how to praise their children for the things they do well, instead of criticizing them for the things they do wrong.
Some courses even encourage mothers to develop their own robust sense of self-esteem, instead of leaning on the accomplishments of their children in an attempt to boost their own worth. These classes could be quite helpful in the fight for sobriety, as women who are confident mothers, with lower levels of stress, might be better able to resist the lure of drugs in the future.
Family therapy can also be an important part of the healing process for women with older children. In these therapy sessions, a mother and her children can come together to learn more about addiction, and they can discuss the pain and trauma they’ve all endured as the substance abuse has moved forward. Family therapy allows the group to knit back together as a team, and come up with a game plan to address the addiction in the future. It can be a major help in a woman’s path to recovery.
Help at The Orchid
Our Florida facility is specifically designed to help women who are dealing with addiction. We’ve studied how drugs of addiction impact women’s bodies in unique ways, and our treatment team has developed therapies that are tailored to meet the challenges addicted women face. We provide intensive family therapy sessions, to help women reconnect with their children and the other members of their families, and we utilize an intensive group form of therapy that can help mothers to share their stories and learn from one another. If you’d like to learn more, please call us.