Single Mothers and Substance Use Disorder
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Updated: July 5, 2022

Single Mothers and Substance Use Disorder

Being a mom is hard, and being a single mom is even more challenging. Mothers feed little children, cook for them, clean their messes, bathe them, and read them stories, not to mention what playtime entails. The challenges of motherhood change as children age. The day-to-day duties of a mother are demanding enough. When combined with being a single mother and the daily challenges of handling addiction, it can seem unbearable.

Without a companion to provide financial and emotional support, parenthood may feel like too much to endure. Substance abuse complicates the situation, with destructive consequences to the whole family. But by receiving help at a substance abuse treatment center, you can break the cycle of addiction and trade your damaging emotions for positive steps toward a brighter future.

Challenges in Recovery

Women who have an addiction face unique challenges regarding patterns of substance abuse, treatment-related behaviors, and risks for relapse. Studies have shown that women develop medical and social consequences of substance abuse quicker than men while being more susceptible to relapse.

Every mother who has recovered from addiction while raising a little one without a partner will admit it is not easy, but it is so worth it. Still, barriers can make it difficult for women to seek treatment for their addiction.

Some unique challenges when attempting to stay substance-free include:

  • Low self-worth: Women may experience depression and anxiety, lowering their self-esteem and increasing their risk of relying on substances to self-medicate.
  • Interpersonal conflicts that interfere with treatment: Women usually have more involvement with the family. Therefore, they may have more challenging relationships with family members and substance-using partners that reduce the chances of sobriety.
  • Lack of support: Family functioning indicators that can predict substance abuse relapse among women include emotional distance, lack of open communication, and lack of support from male partners.
  • The stigma of being a woman: Women tend to be more stigmatized and stereotyped, resulting in barriers to acquiring recovery-related services, preventing or impeding recovery, and leading to relapse.
  • Lack of coping skills: Difficulty dealing with stress, emotions, and relationships with other individuals occur in life. If women cannot cope, they may feel overwhelmed and out of control, triggering them to use substances.

Furthermore, single mothers struggling with addiction are more likely than men to have concurrent psychiatric problems and extensive records of traumatic events. They are more likely to experience mood, anxiety, eating disorders, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Motivators for Recovery

There is no shame in getting help for substance use disorder (SUD). While everyone’s journey is different, the desired destination remains the same: recovery. Below are some proven motivators for mothers in recovery.

  • Family: Positive relationships with children, parents, and partners are significant sources of motivation and support for women in recovery.
  • Self: Addiction treatment is an opportunity for women to rebuild their self-worth, self-esteem, and self-love through learning about themselves in recovery. Women reported that they prefer holistic approaches that allow their children to attend sessions with them.
  • Legal problems: Some women experience legal issues associated with substance abuse and wish to learn from their mistakes by not repeating them.

Single moms should give themself a break. They usually have a genuine longing to be an affectionate and encouraging mother. Even with intense desire, it is difficult to break the chains of addiction. Women in recovery have a second chance to become the woman and mother they long to be.

It Takes a Village

Mothers seem like real-life superheroes who could take on the world, but that doesn’t mean they should do it alone. Even Batman has Robin to depend on. No one makes it through recovery or motherhood alone, and those who succeed in doing so have not done it without mistakes.

Through peer support groups and community, single mothers can find relief from life's pressures.

A recovery community is the best place to unite with others with similar stories. Studies show that support groups offer many benefits for those with SUD, whether a single moms group or a local recovery group.

Mothers may try meeting friends in recovery who can help with their kids. Friends may watch each other's kids so that each mother can get some rest and refuel, take a break, or get out and do something for herself. Women are encouraged to rebuild relationships and reach out to loved ones who are willing to help. Women in recovery should seek support within their community, and always remember to keep sobriety first and foremost.

Treatment for Substance Use Disorder

As overpowering as addiction and being a single mother can be, it is essential to know there is help available. Your first step is admitting you have a problem. This revelation will pave the way to pursuing the help you need.

Being a single mom in addiction recovery can feel lonely, but you are not alone. Single mothers have unique financial and emotional challenges, as well as mental conditions that can affect them. Understanding the unusual obstacles single mothers face is essential for healing to begin. If you or a loved one struggles with alcohol or drug addiction, we are here to help. Present Moments Recovery center in San Diego, California, is a family-run treatment center where mothers can feel at home while they heal. Our compassionate team of professionals delivers evidence-based approaches and offers emotional support throughout treatment. Present Moments Recovery firmly believes that recovery only happens in the present moment. Let Present Moments Recovery help you recover in a calm and supportive atmosphere. Call us today at (619) 363-4767 and learn more about how we can help you or the mother in your life achieve a long and successful recovery.


If you or a loved one is looking for an effective drug rehab in San Diego, call 619-363-4767. One of our caring members is ready to answer all of your questions.

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If Present Moments is the right fit for your current situation you will be speaking to Admissions Director Mark Gladden, who will be your guide throughout the process of arranging travel and undergoing an initial detox (if necessary). Mark has been the guide for dozens of men and women who have gotten their lives back by entering treatment at Present Moments. He has earned his reputation as being truly dedicated to the recovery of others. Mark will be the one to ‘show you the ropes’ when it comes to admitting to our facility for treatment

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