Addiction can be incredibly difficult to overcome. Even if someone wants to stop using drugs, they may be unable to do so even after multiple attempts. Stefanie was able to become sober when she became pregnant with her first two children. When she became pregnant with her third child, however, she was in the midst of an opioid addiction that wouldn’t let go.
Her child was born healthy and without an opioid dependency, but Stefanie realized she needed to make a permanent change. Before attending rehabilitation at The Recovery Village, she was afraid she’d be judged for her drug use as a mother. This made her use substances even more. After finding nonjudgmental recovery support through addiction treatment, she finally had the tools necessary for lifelong sobriety. Aided by everything she learned in the process, Stefanie was able to begin building a healthy, drug-free life with her family.
Sobriety is only one part of the addiction recovery process. When one member deals with addiction, everyone else in their family is also affected. Though a person in recovery is undergoing a healing process, their family needs to heal as well. In recovery, a person will need to help rebuild the family unit by being honest, open and patient with their loved ones. The family will also need to help support the person in recovery.
How Addiction Impacts Children
When a parent is living with addiction, their children are perhaps affected the most. Under the influence of substances, people often act erratically, and it can be hard to depend on them. Worse, people under the influence can become abusive, neglectful or violent toward their children.
Because of a parent’s substance use disorder, children may be more likely to:
- Use substances themselves
- Develop learning issues
- Take on increased responsibility
- Become violent or controlling in later relationships
- Experience school-related issues
Becoming a sober mom is important for setting children on a path for success in the future. After you have stopped using substances, the next step is to begin rebuilding trust with your loved ones.
Helping Your Family Regain Trust in You
Mothers in addiction recovery have already taken a very important first step: They’ve stopped using substances. However, their family may not yet be ready to start trusting them again. This trust will come with time, and people in recovery must be patient.
Many people are unaware that addiction is a mental illness that is difficult to overcome. If your loved ones understand this, it may be easier for them to see why it has been hard for you to “just quit.” Be open and honest in communicating with them, and encourage them to talk about their feelings with you. It may not be easy, but it helps to foster an environment of trust once again.
In addition to patience, consistency is also key. Things won’t change overnight, and people in recovery must continue working on building trust — even when it gets hard. Others will see that their loved one is no longer the person they were when they were using substances and that they’re actively working to get better. If family members can’t seem to come around, they may need an outside support group to help them trust a loved one again.
Healing from Damage Caused by Addiction
Healing and recovery go hand in hand, but healing from drug addiction can be a difficult process. However, it helps people with addiction return to the person they were before substances took control of their life. Though a person in recovery is healing, their family is likely to still feel the pain caused by the addiction. Their wounds need to heal, too.
While a person is away at rehab, their family’s dynamics may have changed. These dynamics won’t simply reverse when a person returns from treatment, so they need to be understanding and not try to force things back to how they used to be.
Here are a few tips to help heal the damage caused by addiction:
- Be patient: It may take a while for family members to begin trusting and accepting loved ones with prior addictions. Allow them to take their time — they may be afraid to be hurt again, and they need to be sure that you won’t hurt them. Patience in recovery is necessary for fear and pain to heal.
- Be loving: Your family may be hesitant toward you. It’s important to be loving toward them as they readjust to your sober presence.
- Offer praise: When you feel that things are becoming normal between you and family members, let them know it. Tell them how it makes you feel, knowing that they’re beginning to trust you and show their love to you again.
- Avoid power struggles: It can be hard to be patient, but you can’t demand that things go back to how they were. Everyone is still healing and adjusting to your recovery. They may still be struggling to understand your addiction and the pain it may have caused them. Do not force them into forgiveness or trust — it has to be on their terms.
Importance of Recovery Support
Recovery support is important both during and after attending rehab, especially for women. A woman’s family plays a large role in her recovery, but the family may still be too hurt to act as helpful support.
For women in this situation, peer support for addiction recovery can be an incredibly valuable tool. At these small group gatherings, they will be able to speak with others in similar situations, hear advice and learn about new strategies for coping with recovery. Peer support can occur at rehab facilities or at local programs, such as Alcoholics Anonymous or SMART Recovery meetings.
Family support in addiction recovery is important. Though a person in recovery may have outlets for therapy, treatment, and support, their families can often feel like they have nowhere to turn. These families need a way to talk about their experiences and learn from others who are going through the same thing.
Family support groups can help families cope with a loved one’s past or current addiction. These groups can help them better understand the addiction itself and become more aware of why their loved one has not been their usual self.
How to Create a Recovery-Friendly Home
To help rebuild the family unit and create an environment that allows for lifelong recovery, it’s important to introduce a few simple guidelines. At-home alcohol or drug addiction recovery should include:
- No alcohol or drugs: To improve the chances of successful recovery from addiction, remove alcohol and drugs from home. If there are alcohol or drugs in the home, it can be much too easy to trigger a relapse. Make sure friends and family are aware and do not bring them into the house.
- Open communication: Communication in addiction recovery is vital for fostering a sober lifestyle at home. Things can become difficult, especially when substances can no longer be used to help ease stress. Make sure that issues are talked about openly, respectfully and honestly.
- Everyone respects rules and boundaries: Certain behaviors can trigger the urge to use substances. During recovery, people should be aware of these triggers and try to avoid them. Setting boundaries in addiction recovery can help prevent chances of relapse.
- All family members practice self-care: It can be hard to stay motivated if only one person is practicing self-care techniques. Self-care in early recovery is vital, as it can be difficult to readjust to the normal functions of everyday life. A person in recovery will need to begin filling the time that used to be spent using substances. This is a good opportunity to begin practicing activities focused on wellness or finding new, productive hobbies.
If you or a loved one has a drug or alcohol addiction, The Recovery Village is here to help. Contact us today to learn more about treatment plans and programs that can work well for your situation and goals.
The Recovery Village. “Recovering Mother talks about her Opioid use while pregnant.” YouTube, May 13, 2019. Accessed August 4, 2019.
Regan, Dianne, et al. “Infants of drug addicts: At risk for chi[…]ment in foster care.” Neurotoxicology and Teratology, August 1987. Accessed August 4, 2019.
SAMHSA. “Chapter 2: Impact of Substance Abuse on Families.” 2004. Accessed August 4, 2019.
SAMHSA. “Chapter 1: Creating the Context.” 2004. Accessed August 4, 2019.
The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.