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What Drug Recovery Means as a Single Parent

Raising children is one of the most precious experiences we can have. Yet, it can also be one of the most difficult, especially if you are a single parent. To add insult to injury, what can make rearing a child on your own even harder is when you struggle with substance use disorders.

This may be one of your hardest battles, raising your child without a partner and fighting your addiction simultaneously. There are several important steps to be aware of as you embark upon your recovery journey as a single parent.

Here is everything you need to know about what drug recovery means as a single parent:

Single Parents and Substance Abuse Vulnerability

The day-to-day of raising a child alone can feel like too much to bear without a support system. This can lead single parents to look for ways to combat stress and anxiety with drug addiction. Single parents can be quite vulnerable to developing addictions as a means to calm their lives.

Even using drugs or alcohol to self-medicate for a short time can be dangerous. Addiction can also interrupt the child in developing socially, emotionally, and cognitively. This can wreak havoc on their future as well as your own.

Financial Issues May Arise

You already know how difficult it is to raise a child on one income. Battling addiction can prove costly as well. Rehabilitation and treatment programs can also be costly in addition to the day-to-day bills.

You will undoubtedly have to miss work in order to detox and enter rehab. This can feel like a dealbreaker to many. Please know there are more options than ever! Not entering a recovery program is not an option: recovery is for both you and your child.


You can expect to feel shame. Shame for being an addict and shame for not being able to raise your child as you heal yourself from the addiction. Please know this is normal.

There is nothing to be ashamed of as you have made the best decision for both you and your child. No one is perfect. Entering rehab sets a prime example for your children of the importance of taking care of yourself. It is time to break the stigma and seek addiction treatment.

Potential Risk of Losing Custody

One of the most devastating thoughts addicts can have is to think of losing their child. You must complete a rehabilitation program in order to prove you are in the best interest of the child. It is highly unlikely that a judge would not be supportive of you benefitting your life—which in turn will make you a better parent.

If you do lose custody, it is imperative to complete your treatment in order to regain custody again. Be sure to utilize any support network or support groups that you have to show the court you are staying sober and doing everything you can to better your life.

Lasting Impact on Children

Your addiction may convince you that the only person it is harming is you. This is not the case. Addiction not only can destroy your life—it can destroy your children’s. 

Parental substance abuse will shape a child’s future—so you must take action as soon as possible. Single parents in recovery often feel an immense sense of guilt for exposing their children to addiction. Addiction teaches children unhealthy, dangerous expectations. It can also force them to mature faster than they should.

They bear witness to your behaviors and may mimic them later in life. By working with a reputable rehabilitation team, you can help your child learn healthy lifestyle choices.

Child Care Services

While you are in recovery, you must find someone to take care of your little one. This may feel daunting, but it is necessary to ensure your proper healing.

If the other parent can assist, that can be helpful and more cost-effective. Close friends and other relatives are a great way to turn if they are available. Your child’s well-being is vital—just as much as your journey and recovery from addiction.

If there are no other options for childcare services, the National Survey of Substance Abuse Treatment revealed that 14% of drug treatment centers do offer childcare services while parents receive treatment.

Recovery and Treatment Choices

As overwhelming as addiction and being a single parent can be, please know there is help out there. Your first step—as you may know—is admitting you have a problem. This acknowledgment paves the way to seeking out the help you need.

Your next step is to reach out to your ex-spouse or the other parent to fill them in on your need for help. This situation may not be comfortable, but it is necessary to ensure the safety of your children. You may actually be shocked that they might support your choice for treatment.

Dual Diagnosis

The majority of people who enter addiction treatment are only treated for their addiction. The 12-step program does not typically include mental health issues. Luckily, there are some programs tiered toward single parents that offer dual diagnosis treatments such as for depression or anxiety.

Residential Programs

As single parents struggle with fear of losing custody of their children, if the parent cannot find a trusted friend or family member to assist with their children as they seek the help they need, residential programs may be offered. This program—usually for single mothers or pregnant women—allows mothers to bring their children with them to the center as they recover.

Alternative Healing Options

If addiction treatment and dual diagnosis programs are not enough, alternative choices may be available. These therapeutic choices at treatment facilities can include:

  • Meditation
  • Yoga
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy
  • Family therapy
  • Additional therapies

These additional options combat cravings, relapses, triggers, and stress.

Group Therapy

Group therapy is a successful way to offer recovery services. Many people find being surrounded by other addicts as comforting as they are relatable, and they feel less alone. Community is a great way to build confidence and motivation to beat the disease. Many group therapy treatment centers also offer childcare services to single parents with limited childcare options.

Outpatient Treatment

Many rehab centers offer outpatient treatments for single parents. Many single parents are not able to attend an in-patient center due to not having assistance for their children. Intensive outpatient treatments are also available as they continue to raise their children and handle the day-to-day affairs.

Parental Coaching Services

As single parents are in recovery, parent coaching is offered to assist with the children. Addiction is harmful to the child and both abuse and neglect can be present. Parental coaching services teach the parent how to properly repair the damage addiction has caused. These new life skills assist with better communication for a more nurturing, healthy future.

After Rehab Care

After you complete your treatment program, what happens? After you complete the initial detox and rehabilitation services customized to your specific needs, the next step is for you to be on your own. Before you return to your normal life, it is vital to have an aftercare program established and ready.

An aftercare program is designed to prevent relapse. Many recovery centers offer aftercare services to assist with the transition from detox to rehab to normal life. These services can include relapse prevention groups, one-on-one counseling sessions with a professional, and transitional housing.

The aftercare plan is just as important as getting the help you need. It establishes longevity in your recovery for you to maintain your sobriety so you can raise a healthy child while staying healthy yourself.

Why Getting Help is Imperative for Single Parents

11.4 million people die early each year due to their smoking, alcohol, and drug use. That is millions and millions of children left without one of their parents—or, for single parents, without any parent at all. Getting help is essential for single parents as your child needs you.

In order to properly parent, you must be mindful and aware. Your child’s emotional and physical well-being are your highest responsibility. If you are taking mind-altering substances, you cannot fully be there for your child to take care of them. Your choices directly affect them. Single-parent households imminently have higher stress loads and may run the risks of higher depression and anxiety rates. This will spill over on your children.

Drug and alcohol addiction can take a toll on your life—and your child’s. In time and money, addiction can be expensive; therefore, you run the risk of going into poverty and putting your child’s safety at risk. A long-term recovery plan is essential for protecting your children and preventing harrowing issues in their future.

Discover Recovery at The Haven New England

If you or a loved one are a single parent and struggling with addiction, please know that you are not alone. The Haven New England was designed with you and your beloved children in mind. 

A premier drug and alcohol detox rehabilitation center, The Have New England can help you recover from addiction and get control of your life. You and your child deserve the best version of you. Contact us today for more information, or call for help at (844) 933-4145.

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