Addicted Moms: Hitting Closer to Home Than You Realize

For many women, the stress of motherhood can take its toll. Trying to keep up with the needs of their children ­­– in addition to the needs of a household, career, or spouse – has caused many busy mothers to resort to relying on “helpers.” These “helpers,” as they are referred to, are most commonly alcohol and prescription painkillers.

A stunning 15.8 million women ages 18 or older have used illicit drugs — including marijuana and the misuse of prescription medications — in the past year, according to a SAMHSA study. Another 5.7 million women suffer from alcoholism, reports the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

Oftentimes busy mothers begin to take prescription opioid medication for a documented injury. Once they experience the euphoric side effect of these powerful painkillers, many mothers become addicted and can no longer function without these substances long after their injury has healed.

Opiates are the active ingredients in prescription painkillers that work very quickly on the brain and cause the release of the pleasure-boosting chemical dopamine. When a mother keeps taking the pills as a means of self-medicating, she can develop a tolerance towards them. A mother will then need to consume more pills to achieve the same pleasurable effect. At this stage of addiction, if a mother suddenly stops taking the pills, she will experience harsh withdrawal symptoms, including sweating, nausea, and violent shaking, for up to a week.

Instead of taking pills, other mothers resort to drinking alcohol to help them cope with stress. Today, in the United States, there are a staggering 6.6 million children who have at least one alcoholic parent. Many times, mothers who drink to ease their mounting pressures at home and work do so in the late hours of the night when the rest of the house is asleep. They drink under the guise of staying up to clean or making sure all family members in the house are prepared for the next day. In reality, they are vacuuming, folding laundry, and packing lunches inebriated.

Getting Help for Mom

For many mothers who are battling either drug or alcohol addiction, seeking treatment isn’t an easy option.  Many addicted moms are concerned their households won’t continue to run in their absence, or that they will lose custody of their children. These mothers need to take an honest look at how they are functioning and getting through their day with “little helpers.” A mother’s life can be turned around through different types treatment options, including outpatient level programs.

Outpatient treatment offers individuals the opportunity to seek help for their addiction while still having the ability to maintain the obligations of their daily lives. Many individuals choose this option to avoid having their lives disrupted while they get healthy again and learn to cope with their stress.

If they are battling an addiction problem that requires around the clock attention, addicted mothers would benefit from inpatient care.

For mothers who are pregnant and in need of addiction treatment, there are programs available that will provide them with a specialized treatment plan to ensure their safety as well as that of their unborn children. Some of the comprehensive offerings found in addiction treatment center programs for pregnant women may include the following:

  • Medically supervised detox, if needed
  • Pregnancy education and counseling
  • Parenting education
  • Prenatal care
  • Individual, group, and family therapy
  • Assessment and treatment for co-occurring disorders
  • Aftercare planning

There is help for mothers who are battling addiction. By reaching out to a treatment center, proper assessments will be done to determine which level of care is suitable for a mother in need of treatment. With proper support, a mother battling addiction can achieve long-term recovery and get back to caring for her family in a healthy way.