This Mother’s Day: A Time for Celebration but Also Concern

Published on May 8, 2020

Canaan, CT – Mother’s Day is May 10th,
and while the holiday may look different in this new era of social distancing,
it continues to be a time to celebrate mothers and their unconditional devotion
to their families. Mountainside thanks
mothers everywhere for their strength and dedication, and reminds moms that
setting aside time for self-care can be the greatest gift they give their
children and themselves.

For moms, the commitment to family can often lead to
self-sacrifice, as they are often the first to offer support, but are less
likely to invest in their own well-being. Social expectations to fit the mold
of a “perfect” mother or wife often lead women to suppress concerns about their
health or avoid admitting to problematic behaviors. Women today have added
responsibilities and are likely to feel stretched too thin as a result – and
that was the case even before a global pandemic began to further threaten their
emotional and financial well-being.

Under quarantine, many moms have been disproportionately impacted
by work-life imbalance, with telecommuting Americans working three
hours more per day
on average. They find themselves being both parents and
teachers to their children while schools are closed. Some have been laid off
from their jobs, and those who are lucky enough to still have jobs are working
round-the-clock while raising restless families at home. These incredible
demands, along with an all-encompassing sense of uncertainty, can increase
moms’ chances of turning to maladaptive coping mechanisms, including drinking
or using anti-anxiety drugs such as Xanax to take the edge off. If left
unaddressed, such habits can fuel mental health struggles and even lead to
addiction.

Mothers may not fit common stereotypes about those who
suffer from addiction, but a growing number of women are indeed becoming
dependent on drugs and alcohol. Earlier this year, pre-pandemic, a study
from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)
found
that alcohol-related deaths among women rose by 85 percent between 1999 and
2017. The mounting stressors caused by the coronavirus outbreak are anticipated
to cause more women to participate in problem drinking, increasing their
chances of alcoholism. Mountainside’s own data tends to support this, with 67
percent of female clients admitted to its detox facility in April naming
alcohol as their primary substance of choice. Another key takeaway: female
clients’ use of benzodiazepines – anti-anxiety drugs – more than quadrupled
from the first quarter of the year compared to April, from 6 to 25 percent.

Addiction rates among women show no signs of slowing down,
but less women are likely to seek treatment due to COVID-19. At Mountainside,
female admission rates at the center’s inpatient programs have declined. Social
distancing may complicate women’s ability to leave home for a rehab stay, but outpatient
treatment programs
 offer valuable recovery resources and more flexible
options for addicted mothers.

“The pressures of motherhood can take an especially heavy
toll on women.  Because women tend to feel
guilty for addressing their own needs or for feeling like they are neglecting
their families, they may dismiss getting treatment,” says Tracy Maestrone, Recovery
Coach at Mountainside.  “Many mothers are
afraid to share their insecurities with others, which can lead to a spiral of
isolation and exhaustion. Women need to know that there are services out there
that do understand the special needs of women, including moms.”

In the face of both a pandemic and the addiction epidemic, women
can receive the lifesaving services they need from the comfort and safety of
their homes via telehealth. Virtual support groups can similarly reinforce to
mothers that they are not alone, providing a sense of comfort while
strengthening their bonds with others.

Those concerned about their alcohol or drug use should
contact a local treatment center to inquire about online and in-person
offerings.