When we think of a stereotypical addict, the last image that comes to mind is a mom. Mom always knows best. She is there for us no matter what and is our caregiver throughout our lives.
But moms can struggle with addiction just like the rest of us. The difference is when mom is running a household and is the primary caregiver for children or elderly parents, then everyone is impacted when mom becomes addicted. It truly becomes a family problem when mom doesn’t know best.
Mom makes us dinner, helps us with homework, pays the bills, drives us to soccer practice knows where our other shoe is and so much more. She is on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Rarely does anyone ever bother to worry about how she is doing, though. How does she manage such a difficult schedule? How is she doing? Is she okay?
More and more women are starting to drink, closing the gender gap between men and women when it comes to alcohol consumption. With more demands placed on women by working and being a full-time caregiver, or even worse, being a single mom, stress takes its toll. Although many women are able to abstain from using substances when they have caregiving duties like driving or caring for small children, they still are becoming dependent upon substances in increasing numbers.
Women, especially mothers suffer from depression. The rigors of motherhood are incredibly stressful, and sleep deprivation is commonplace. Women are more prone to depression anyway, and then there is the curse of postpartum depression. What is a mom to do? Some moms try to self-medicate with substances, and find themselves addicted and eventually are not able to keep up with all of their responsibilities in the home or at work.
Women are sexualized everywhere, and as such, unrealistic views of what women should look like are developed. This is especially true of mothers, who have given birth and are realizing the effects of age on their bodies. But they still see the images that the media and social media propagate and know that they do not look like that. Some women even have partners who place unrealistic body expectations on them. There are so many ways that eating disorders develop. But more commonly, women are turning to amphetamines and other drugs to try to get that girlish figure again. Instead, they become addicted.
When mom has an injury or surgery, she needs to be able to be functional as soon as possible. So, of course, she is going to start taking those pain pills her doctor prescribes her, she probably needs them more than anyone because she is not going to take care of herself and rest and let her body heal when there are people depending on her for care. It is exactly a reason like this that so many people have become addicted to opioids. And once they are addicted to prescription pills, their addiction can escalate to using heroin or other drugs, too. Not the traditional image of motherhood, huh?
If mom is an addict, then the entire family is suffering due to addiction. Unfortunately, caregivers face some of the most difficult barriers to receiving treatment: Who takes care of the kids while mom goes into residential treatment? Who makes the meals, washes the laundry, keeps the household running, and helps with homework? Since women are often primary caregivers, some of whom are single parents, they often have difficulty finding a “substitute” for themselves while they focus on their own health first.
At some point, though mom doesn’t know best. She can’t keep it together, it may not even be safe for her to drive or to leave kids in her care. Addiction takes over our entire beings, and mom no longer is in charge of herself, let alone our household. This is the time to find a way to get mom help. Find a family member to come live in the home, hire a nanny, have friends step in and help divide up duties. Because if we don’t get mom help, mom won’t be able to help us anymore.
This is not the picture we imagined when we thought of addicts. This is mom. The queen of multitasking, the best cook, the homework tutor extraordinaire, the finder of lost socks and toys. She is an addict. For whatever reason, she has an illness, and only going away and getting treatment will help her to come back and be the superhero of our family.
If you are a supermom, or you know of a supermom who needs help, consider reaching out. It is scary for everyone, and finding someone to cover for her will be hard. But getting her into recovery will be worth it. Because otherwise, she is just another case of when mom doesn’t know best.
Wondering what step you should take next? Unsure of what services would be the best fit for you or someone you love? Call Steps Recovery Centers today – 385-250-1701– to talk with one of our trained clinicians. With levels of care from outpatient to residential, we can meet you where you are and help boost your journey to recovery.