While I was in prison, I met dozens of single mothers who struggled with substance abuse. They told me about the emotional and financial challenges of raising kids on their own, and the many times they just wanted to throw in the towel. Instead, they turned to drugs and alcohol as an avenue for relief – until it developed into a major problem.
Addiction and Single Parents
Hearing their stories and seeing their grief over having to leave their children for several years really hit me. These single mothers truly wanted to seek help, but numerous obstacles blocked their path to recovery.
Here’s a look at five of the most common barriers single parents face when considering treatment options:
- Income Challenges
Many single parents are already fighting to make ends meet, so the additional expense of going to rehab can be a deal-breaker. Plus, many rehab facilities require a detox period, which means taking time off from work and not getting paid. All the lost time and money can easily throw many of them into a state of poverty, which opens up a whole new set of problems.
- Child Care
There’s also the issue of who will take care of the children when a single parent goes into rehab. Maybe you don’t have any close friends or family members to take your children in. That means you would have to pay for lengthy (and expensive) child care, putting you even further in debt.
- Risk of Losing Custody
The longer it takes you to complete treatment, the more of a negative impact substance abuse has on you and your kids. Though losing custody is a very real fear, going to rehab shows that you’re being proactive and responsible enough to become a better person and parent to your child – something that, most times, won’t be frowned upon in a court of law.
- The Shame/Stigma
We all know the stigma associated with substance abuse. And as a single parent, you likely worry about how the rest of the community will treat you – or even how your own child will see you – after coming clean about your chemical dependency.
- Lack of Treatment Options
Research indicates that rural areas often lack options for substance abuse treatment, compared to their urban counterparts. This adds an additional obstacle for single parents in getting the specialized services and support they need.
Don’t Give Up on Treatment
Despite these obstacles, there are alternative ways to overcome them. Treatment programs designed for single parents do exist, such as facilities that include child care or those that allow you to keep working in order to meet your financial obligations.
The bottom line is, doing nothing about your chemical dependency isn’t an option. Putting off getting help not only harms you, it also harms your kids in the long run. If you’re a single parent, remember you’re not alone. There are people and treatment options available to support you – just don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Additional Reading: 5 Appealing Rehab Features for Single Parents
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