Single Mothers and Addiction
In the last couple of years, the amount of lone-parent families has reduced slightly after a significant increase in the sixteen years leading up to 2012. Currently, there are 2.86 million single-parent families in the UK.(1) One study showed that 86% of this figure featured mothers as the lone parent. (2)
The plight of a single-parent family is important to recognise in the context of addiction. It creates a complex situation that potentially affects individual and family outcomes.
Although in the general population, men are more likely to drink than women, within a population of heavy drinkers, this evens out. (3) For single mothers raising a family can be extremely hard while also living with an addiction.
Understandably, it’s imperative that the most efficient support and treatment programmes are put in place. This impacts both mothers and children. Contact OK Rehab today if you want to find out more about treatment services for single mothers in your area.
What makes single mothers susceptible to addiction?
There are various risk factors associated with being a single mother and how this can influence addiction development.
A parent has to take care of feeding, bathing, school lifts, house chores, and all the other daily tasks that come with raising children. As much as a person loves their family, these attachments can be the cause of much emotional and financial strain.
The responsibilities and stress of raising a family can be really hard when two parents are involved. For a single parent, this challenge can be doubled. The weight of this situation can have a huge impact on a person. It’s understandable, therefore, that a person’s mental health and wellbeing can be affected.
It takes a whole community to raise a child well. Mothers need time off to recuperate. Unfortunately for many lone parents, affording regular childcare isn’t always an option. This is why reaching out to trustworthy people nearby can make all the difference in making life feel that bit easier.
Having people around that can help is essential in order to take care of oneself and the children.
Factors that increase the likelihood of addiction
It’s not always the case, of course, but for women who are both single mothers and living with an addiction, there are usually other factors present. These are listed below:
- Mental Health
- Domestic violence
It’s evident that with these issues as well as addiction, the single mother is facing a very challenging situation. Circumstances that are this complex require experienced and compassionate professionals. It’s imperative that women feel safe and secure when accessing community services for treatment.
How substances affect women
Substances affect women in various ways. Obviously, women come in all shapes and forms and some might have illnesses or conditions. All this will influence the effects of alcohol and drugs.
The information here is based on cis-women (women whose gender matches the sex they were assigned at birth). Studies show that substances can severely affect women’s hormones, menstrual cycle, fertility, pregnancies etc.(4)
Interestingly, women develop addictions more quickly in comparison to men. Being that women hold less water in their bodies, they absorb drugs and alcohol more rapidly. This also means that substances can have more of an impact in their side effects.
For women who have developed physical dependencies and severe addictions, tolerances will be much higher than in the average population. This means that it would require a lot more alcohol or drugs to have the same effect as it would on a person who never uses substances.
Why do women develop addictions?
There are many reasons why women develop addictions. It’s not a “one rule fits all” topic. Generally, addictions in women usually stem from a place of self-medicating. This is where a person drinks or takes drugs in order to help them cope.
When a person faces uncomfortable events and distressing feelings, they might take something to ease the symptoms. Although alcohol and drugs might lift the mood in the short term, they cause long-term issues that, on the whole, make things much worse.
There are also other reasons women report using substances. Some women have taken drugs in order to support weight maintenance, to help them cope with pain, and to help them manage mental health problems.(4)
Addiction Treatment for Women
Research shows that women face more barriers than men in accessing treatment services.(5) This is why it’s really important that when accessing drug and alcohol rehabilitation services, you speak with people who understand the specific nature of what it means to be a single mother with an addiction.
Types of rehabilitation programmes for single mothers
There are two types of services available to those who want to quit substances: outpatient and inpatient.
Outpatient services occur while the person remains living at home. There will be a schedule of group activities for service users to participate in. This usually includes 12 Step groups, SMART groups, art therapies, and mindfulness sessions.
There will also be some access to one-to-one support depending on staff availability. Outpatient services are very effective at treating people who have mild substance misuse issues.
Inpatient services are the most efficient at treating people who have severe addictions. For many, this might have developed into a physical dependency. This situation can be very distressing as it becomes dangerous to quit a substance even when the person desperately wants to.
Inpatient services (also commonly referred to as “rehab”) also offer a huge range of evidence-based therapies to treat a person’s thought processes. This is what helps to overcome the psychological aspect of addiction.
Aside from this, alternative therapies (such as yoga and art therapy) make up part of the treatment, this means that a person’s wellbeing or “spiritual” side is also treated.
A stay at a rehab centre also means that a person is supported back into the community after treatment. An aftercare plan is provided in order to support a person towards a sustainable life of abstinence.
Childcare while receiving treatment for addiction
Some women might be concerned about not being able to attend treatment due to not having childcare. Some outpatient services have childcare facilities. It’s worth asking when you speak to the centre.
For single mothers who want to stay at a rehab centre, they will require 24/7 childcare. This is because a residential stay is 24/7 for the mother too. Usually, people ask family or close friends to support childcare in this case. Others might arrange a full-time nanny to cover the length of time they’ll be at rehab.
It’s more common than people realise for single mothers to suffer from addictions. There are many high-risk factors that contribute to increasing a single mother’s likelihood of using drink and drugs. This is often due to distressing events and finding ways to cope.
A single mother should be fully supported in accessing treatments. Barriers, such as childcare, might feel off-putting, but with the right guidance, receiving treatment is obtainable.
Not only does addiction treatment improve outcomes for the single mother, it does the same for the children involved.
To find out more about what drug rehabilitation services are available in your area, contact OK Rehab. Our team of friendly advisors will explain the most appropriate options to suit your individual needs.