Being a single parent isn’t easy no matter how you look at it, but if you’re a single parent with a drug addiction, you’re probably struggling more than necessary. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, professional help is almost always needed to overcome an addiction for the long-term, but single parents face a number of unique barriers to entering treatment. These include practical concerns like childcare and maintaining employment as well as the problem of time constraints.
Still, getting help is essential for both your physical and mental health and the well-being of your child. Children of a parent who abuses substances are at an increased risk of developing academic, social, emotional, physical and behavioral problems, and this vulnerability increases when it’s the mother who has a substance use disorder.
Why Getting Help is Essential for Single Parents
Competent parenting requires being sensitive to all of the needs of your child, including social, emotional and physical. Mood- and mind-altering substances impact your ability to tune in to and meet those needs, and this is particularly true in a single-parent household where there may be a high level of stress or mental illness like anxiety or depression.
Additionally, drug addiction can take a serious toll on your finances, and living in poverty further puts a child at risk for a wide range of problems later in life. Finding the resources you need to achieve long-term recovery is crucial for protecting your child from the often-devastating effects of living with an addicted parent.
Outpatient Treatment Resources for Single Parents
Ensuring access to treatment for challenged populations is a major focus of many quality treatment programs. This is particularly true when it comes to ensuring single parents are able to get the help they need.
Intensive outpatient programs are available for those who are unable to enter a residential treatment program, although for those with a severe addiction, residential treatment offers the best possible outcome. Intensive outpatient programs enable single parents to continue working and taking care of business on the home front while participating in individual and group therapy in the daytime or evening. Many of these programs offer childcare services, which are essential for many single parents who have no or limited childcare options.
Because one of the guiding principles of successful treatment is the necessity of addressing all of the individual’s needs and not just those related to the addiction, intensive outpatient treatment programs for single parents often match participants with a case manager. A case manager will help identify essential needs that can’t be addressed through the treatment program and connects the parent with crucial services and resources in the community.
Resources may include:
- Legal assistance
- Vocational training
- Educational assistance
- Food assistance
- Help finding safe and affordable housing
- Various parenting resources
Residential Programs for Single Parents
Some residential treatment programs will accommodate a single parent and one or more children who live on the treatment center campus. In addition to housing and meals, these programs provide childcare while the parent is engaged in treatment. In many cases, children engage in counseling as well, which helps reduce their risk of developing emotional and substance abuse problems later on.
Single-parent residential programs offer a high level of support and often provide coaching to help parents repair any damage done to the child and learn new skills to help them parent more effectively moving forward.
12-Step Support Groups for Single Parents
The National Institutes on Health cites 12-step support groups as the most common and widely attended groups for support in recovery, and they’re positively correlated with abstinence and retention in treatment. Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous groups specifically geared toward single parents can help promote successful recovery by offering a high level of emotional support and promoting personal accountability and an overall healthy lifestyle. Twelve-step group attendance is often an integral part of an inpatient or outpatient treatment program.
The Bottom Line
If you’re a single parent with an addiction, beating your drug addiction is crucial for ensuring the best possible future for you and your child. Without help, the addiction will, in most cases, only get worse and may lead to the inability to care for your child at all.
With a little motivation and perseverance, you can find a treatment program that will address your challenges and work with you to ensure you’re able to get the help you need. The most important thing is to get the help you need sooner rather than later. Doing so will vastly improve your and your child’s quality of life and restore your physical and mental health so that you can focus on effectively parenting your child.