Super-Moms Need Time to Heal from Addiction, Too

Published on May 9, 2019
Mountainside Canaan Aerial Shot

Canaan, CT – Mother’s Day is May 12th, a time to celebrate mothers and their unconditional devotion to their families. Mountainside thanks mothers everywhere for their strength and dedication, and reminds moms in recovery that setting aside time for self-care can be the greatest gift they can give their children and themselves.

For mothers, self-sacrifice is a double-edged sword. Those who expend too much time and emotional labor helping others may turn to unhealthy coping behaviors – including suppressing emotions, drinking excessively, and using drugs – which can raise their chances of developing substance use and mental health disorders.

When faced with a child’s addiction, mothers 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 discourage women from voicing concerns about their health or admitting to problematic behaviors.

“Many mothers are afraid to share their insecurities with others, which causes them to feel isolated and exhausted,” says Tracy Maestrone, recovery coach at Mountainside. “The pressures of motherhood can take an especially heavy toll on mothers in early recovery, who may feel guilty for addressing their own needs or have trouble finding child care while in treatment.”

Mothers may not fit common stereotypes about those who suffer from addiction, but a growing number of women are becoming dependent on drugs and alcohol. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reveals that opioid use disorders quadrupled among pregnant women between 1999 and 2014. A 2017 study in the journal JAMA Psychiatry made another startling discovery: between 2002 and 2013, rates of alcoholism among women rose by 84 percent.

Outpatient treatment programs offer valuable recovery resources to addicted mothers who cannot afford to take time away from their family or professional obligations. Support groups and family counseling can similarly reinforce to mothers that they are not alone, providing a sense of comfort while strengthening their bonds with others.

“To overcome anger and other negative emotions that may have fueled their addiction, mothers in recovery should practice asking for help and asserting themselves when they feel uncomfortable,” says Maestrone. “By being hopeful and honest with themselves and their loved ones, moms can take a much-needed break and start healing from within.”