Challenges of Parenthood

Parenting, while wonderful and rewarding, is also very stressful.  The demands of babies and children can be ceaseless, and must be met before parents can take care of themselves.  Sleep deprivation, constant caretaking, and financial stress are very real burdens.  To cope with this stress, some people turn to drugs or alcohol.  But are drug-addicted parents really any less stressed out than others?

To answer this question, one researcher examined both sober mothers and mothers using drugs or alcohol.  Antonia V. Mata at California State University’s Department of Social Work specifically asked whether mothers have a more difficult time coping with their child’s challenging behaviors when they are using drugs than when they are sober.  She spoke with mothers about their drug use during and after pregnancy, and challenges they had with their child’s behavior while using drugs and while sober.  She found that problematic behaviors were seen less frequently by sober mothers than using mothers.  Specifically:

  1. Using mothers had difficulty with their children’s tantrums and excessive crying
  2. Mothers in treatment found parenting less challenging than when using
  3. Sober mothers found motherhood to be less stressful overall
  4. Sober mothers found their children’s outbursts less challenging

These findings suggest that sober mothers are better equipped to handle their children and prevent problems before they escalate.  Parents with addiction should seek treatment not only for themselves, but to better the lives of their children.

Parents in Addiction Recovery

It may be difficult to admit to your family that you have a problem with substance abuse, and as a mother or father, you may feel guilty taking time out as a parent to address your addiction.  However, your entire family will benefit from your sobriety.  For example:

  1. You will be more present as a parent when you are sober
  2. You will provide a strong example of sobriety
  3. Your family will be safer without the risks of drinking and driving, blacking out while watching your children, etc.
  4. You will be healthier overall

You may find it useful to speak with a therapist or counselor before talking to your family.

How to Handle Stress While in Recovery

Important as recovery is, it is also a stressful time as you transition from a life of substance abuse to a life of sobriety.  Without drugs or alcohol, you will have to learn new coping mechanisms to deal with stress.  If you attend therapy or support groups for your addiction, you will have the stress and guilt of separation from your family.  Here are some suggestions to handle that stress:

  1. Combine self-care with child-care: go for a run with a jogging stroller; stretch or do yoga with your children on the floor near you; put your child in an activity center or playpen while you shower.
  2. Ask for help: reach out to friends or family when you need some time to yourself, whether it’s to run errands, attend recovery meetings, or just take a break.
  3. Work on your recovery from home: access recovery resources online, join online support groups, and check in with a sober support work over the phone
  4. Create a daily routine: following a set pattern will give your life stability, fill your time so that you are not tempted to use drugs or alcohol from boredom, and waking and going to bed at the -same time every day will ensure that you get enough sleep.

If you or a parent you know struggles with addiction, we can help you work toward recovery.  Call us at 877-412-5541.