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8 Addiction Recovery Tips for Moms

Mothers are under a tremendous amount of stress in modern society, and a cultural acceptance of drinking and prescription drug use is widespread, leaving many moms struggling to meet impossibly high standards with substance use as the norm. Many are choosing outpatient addiction treatment to break free of this vicious cycle.

Addiction recovery for moms is more challenging because they often must continue to manage daily responsibilities while dealing with withdrawal, learning healthy ways to cope with stress and rebuilding or improving their family relationships. These tips can help you steer clear of the “mom wine” and Xanax culture and make the changes you want to make for your children and for yourself.

1. Find Fascinating Ways to Engage Yourself

Part of the success of outpatient drug rehab centers comes from helping women understand what factors are causing or contributing to their addiction. With self-awareness, it becomes possible to redirect our minds and efforts into healthy alternatives.

Build a new schedule of activities that includes time with adults, your children, and self-exploration to replace substance use in your family’s life. These activities create new memories and positive associations which encourage long-term sobriety:

  • Joining a fitness club or dance class
  • Exploring local parks and hiking trails with your child
  • Learning crafts or skills
  • Cooking and sharing family meals daily
  • Focusing on nurturing activities with those you love

2. Unplug from Old Friends and Social Media

Your old circle of friends may have been a big part of your introduction to the “mom wine” culture, and your connections on social media may interrupt your day multiple times with images of people drinking and looking unrealistically happy. Humorous memes make light of daily drinking for mothers. Maybe someone in your feed took their children to an amusement park or bought them a motorbike while you were attending outpatient addiction treatment.

Comparing yourself to the picture-worthy moments of someone else’s family life can make you hold yourself to an unrealistic standard. Everyone’s family life has challenges, no matter how happy they may appear on social media. Taking a break from admiring and thumbs-upping other people’s lives will help you focus on your own journey back to the family life you want to have.

3. Stay Away from Events You Associate with Using

This can be one of the most difficult challenges for mothers because drinking and prescription drug use have found their way into what were once family-friendly and sober activities. If you have attended events in the past that included drinking, you should expect that future invitations from the same group of people will cause you to experience cravings.

Addiction recovery is not an instant cure; it is a process that becomes easier and safer over time, but, especially in the early phases, relapse prevention needs to be a primary focus for mothers. Some of the not so obvious mom activities that can be a problem include:

  • Playdates which include wine for the parents
  • Outdoor gatherings where BYOB is the norm or where alcohol is served
  • Holiday parties, book clubs, and mom’s night out events where alcohol or drug use is the norm

One highly effective strategy is to change what you define as a “drink.” When hostesses or friends ask if you would like a drink, respond with your specific request “I would like a (soda, juice, bottle of water) please.” Very often, this response is accepted happily by your friends without any other explanation. Once you are holding a non-alcoholic drink, no one will feel the need to keep offering alternatives.

4. Take Time to Take Care of Yourself

We have been taught that the best mothers are self-sacrificing and put the needs of their family ahead of themselves, but, in fact, no human being can continue to give of themselves without sleep, self-care, and having their own emotional needs met. If you only give and never recharge, your emotional well will run dry.

This brings up feelings of resentment and then, later, feelings of guilt for having those thoughts or for taking time for ourselves. In order to succeed at staying sober, you need to care for yourself as diligently as you would like to care for others by:

  • Scheduling “Me time” on a weekly basis
  • Recognizing the signs that you need to recharge
  • Getting a babysitter or family member to spend quality time with your children while you spend quality time on yourself
  • Exercising, meditating, practicing yoga, or learning a new skill
  • Establishing a daily spiritual reflection, activity, or practice
  • Remembering to HALT; if you are Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired, remember you need to practice self-care

5. Let Go of Super-Mom Guilt

Two happy women standing and holding hands in family counseling

Every one of us has human limitations, a past that has shaped our steps, a genetic tendency toward certain medical conditions, and a limited amount of knowledge. All of us have made mistakes and been less than perfect. Addiction is a challenge that needs to be overcome. If you continue to blame yourself for having human limitations, you may give up the battle because you might fail.

Forgiving yourself and others is part of the emotional and spiritual side of recovery. Shame and remorse serve a function only until you choose to change your actions. Once you have taken the brave step of seeking help for addiction or alcoholism, you can safely forgive yourself for past mistakes and shortcomings and move forward toward becoming the best mother possible.

As Maya Angelou said, “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”

6. Addiction Recovery Affects the Entire Family

When you are a mother, just as your addiction had impacts on your children and family, so will your recovery. Your decision to remain sober is positive and good for your family, even if they do not immediately see the benefits.

As your perception becomes sharper and you improve your parenting skills, you might recognize that some family members have been co-dependent or enabling your addiction. Just as you needed help to overcome your part in the cycle, so may your partner, parents, or children.

Family and group counseling and support is available through outpatient drug rehab centers and 12-step programs, including Al-Anon. These programs empower your loved ones with the knowledge and resources they need to recover fully from growing up or living in an environment ruled by addiction. This counseling can also help your children avoid a possible genetic tendency toward addiction later in life.

7. Seize the Day to Stay Sober

Where does the time come from for a busy mother to make these life changes for herself and her family? It comes from making purposeful choices and seizing any spontaneous or stolen time to enrich your family and empower yourself.

More organized commitments are not always the answer to family fun. Being spontaneous and seizing time back from television, video games, and social media can open the door to new experiences like a breath of fresh air. Learn to say no to those things that are not helpful on your path forward, to make time for the important things:

  • Expressing gratitude and affection openly
  • Letting go of resentment and rediscovering the joy in life
  • Being present in the moment and fully engaged in what you are doing
  • Encouraging your children’s curiosity and learning together
  • Setting a good example for your children by showing them it is possible to rise above addiction and regain a fulfilling family life

8. React to Signs of Relapse Ahead

Sitting With Teenage Daughter On Sofa

The self-awareness you learn during treatment and addiction recovery is so powerful because it allows you to recognize when you are at risk of relapse. Taking proactive steps to prevent another cycle of alcohol or drug use is the right and responsible step for any parent who sees trouble on the horizon.

Returning to an intensive outpatient treatment program or partial hospitalization program (PHP) as soon as possible to prevent or treat relapse is not a failure; it is appropriate and necessary treatment for a chronic condition. Finding a compassionate and comprehensive treatment program that allows you to continue caring for your family responsibilities is all-important at this time.

For outpatient, PHP, and mental health (Dual Diagnosis) treatment in a supportive and family-friendly environment, contact us at RECO Intensive. Our programs in Delray Beach, Florida offer all of the latest evidence-based therapies to help you recover fully and cope with the daily challenges all parents face. Caring help is available with us for everyone struggling with addiction and the challenges of family life.

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