10 SUD Recovery Tips for Moms
American mothers are widely considered to be one of the groups most at risk from developing substance misuse issues, often related to alcohol, sedatives, and stimulants. The difficult, often thankless task of parenting is much more demanding than many other people acknowledge, which leads millions of mothers to use different substances as a way to cope with the pressures of parenthood.
Unfortunately, the stigma against substance use disorder (SUD) and mental illness continue to prevent many from seeking help. Thankfully, many more parents have successfully sought treatment from different types of recovery programs.
Whether you’ve recently completed an SUD treatment program or are just getting started on your journey towards recovery, the tips below can be key to improving your long-term outcomes. If you haven’t been previously diagnosed with SUD or other mental health conditions, be sure to consult with a qualified mental health professional. If you’re in North Texas, be sure to check out these resources for SMART Recovery in Dallas.
1.) Learn All You Can About Substance Use Disorder
Substance use disorder (SUD) is the current term that describes what was formerly known as substance addiction, dependence, abuse, and so on. The current understanding of how the disease affects women is quite a bit different from how popular culture (and some unaccredited rehabs) portray it, so it’s worth taking time to get up-to-date with how the illness affects you.
2.) Understand That You Have an Illness
The stigma against mental illness has been around for millennia, so it’s quite common for anyone to be in denial about it. However, SUD is not that much different from other chronic illnesses like heart disease or diabetes in that it could be treated with modern medical interventions and long-term therapy. And unlike many other common illnesses, a full recovery from SUD is almost always possible.
3.) Learn to Let Go of Things You Can’t Control
Mothers, particularly single parents, often find themselves in a position where they have to be strong for other people. However, it’s not helpful to spend mental and emotional energy on what cannot be controlled. Rather, it’s more important to look at what you can. Improving small things about your behavior and environment one small step at a time is usually more doable and productive than fretting over what you can’t do anything about.
4.) Focus On Evidence-based Treatments
While there is nothing wrong with drawing strength from your faith, it’s important to look at what the evidence says as well. Science-based treatments such as medication-assisted therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy, when applied by certified clinicians, remain the most potent interventions available for people with SUD.
5.) Draw Strength Where You Can
Whether you draw strength from your children, your faith, or anything else, it’s important to have an overarching goal to work for. Having something or someone to become better for can be a massive help in your motivation to work towards a full recovery.
6.) Build a Healthy Self-care Routine
Self-care routines can build confidence, keep you healthy, and allow your brain to create healthy connections that bypass the ones created by substance misuse.
Things to try regularly include:
- Moderate daily exercise
- Learning a completely new skill
- Spending time with family or friends who do not enable bad behavior
- Going on hikes
- Going for a swim regularly
- Actively practicing gratitude
The key is to do your chosen self-care routines regularly. These new positive experiences can build focus, improve introspection, and help with emotional regulation over time, all of which can help with preventing relapses and improving one’s quality of life.
7.) Use Apps to Conserve Your Mental Energy
Recovering from SUD can be mentally taxing and doing the self-care routines consistently can be much harder than it seems. Thankfully, there are now countless apps and other tools that can take the load off your decision-making process. Many of these apps are even specifically designed to help with SUD recovery.
8.) Understand That Healing Takes Time
As a mental illness that affects pathways in the brain, healing from SUD can take much longer than most other kinds of illness. The National Institute on Drug Abuse recommends an absolute minimum of three months of rehabilitation and the time most people need is, realistically, longer than this. Having this expectation early on can help prevent frustration and help you benefit from small but important gains you might make.
9.) Journal Your Progress
A daily or weekly journal can help you make better sense of your recovery journey and provide insights into how you improved over time. The info in your journal may also help your therapist and give them a better picture of your progress.
10.) Never Skip Therapy
If you’re not undergoing therapy right now, it’s time to consider it. Seeing a therapist should be done as regularly as you would see a dentist, regardless of your emotional or mental state. And if you do have issues with substance misuse, it’s even more important to seek expert help regularly. When possible, try to look for therapists or counselors that specialize in addressing the needs of parents.
We hope you found these recovery tips helpful. If you suspect that you or some other close family member has an issue with substance misuse, please seek the help of a qualified mental health professional immediately. Earlier interventions tend to lead to better outcomes and a reduced cost of treatment. Good luck, and be well!