The Intersection of Motherhood and Substance Use Disorder: Empowering Moms in Treatment and Recovery

Motherhood is viewed by many as made up of tender moments, loving selflessness, and unwavering strength. Yet the struggle of substance use disorder (SUD) can hide behind this impression of maternal resilience.

In fact, one study found that about 32% of admissions to substance abuse treatment facilities were women. Most of these women were of childbearing age, had children, and were the primary childcare providers.

Although SUD among mothers may be an overlooked reality, there are empowering resources available to mothers who are struggling. One such resolution can be found in gender-specific SUD treatment for women which can provide a nurturing environment and targeted support to encourage healing.

Related: Maternal Substance Abuse: The Dangers of Parental Addiction and Empowering Mothers to Embrace Recovery

Related: Navigating Perinatal Substance Use: Treatment and Recovery

The Unique Challenges and Vulnerabilities of Motherhood

Moms, like anyone else, can find themselves facing SUD. When coupled with general risk factors for SUD, the unique stressors of motherhood can increase vulnerability. 

Some challenges of motherhood that can influence the chances of developing SUD include:
  • Dramatic life upheaval: The transition to motherhood brings significant changes in responsibilities, lifestyle, and identity, which can be incredibly overwhelming. 
  • Overextended with responsibilities: Mothers may face pressures to meet unrealistic parenting standards while juggling multiple roles and responsibilities. 
  • Exacerbation of mental health concerns: The stress of caregiving, coupled with sleep deprivation, hormonal changes, and limited support, can worsen symptoms of anxiety and depression. 
  • Tendency to delay treatment: The stigma associated with maternal substance use and the reluctance to step away from their children may prevent mothers from seeking treatment, perpetuating the SUD until it reaches critical acuity.

These stressors can lead some women to turn to substances as a way to cope, especially if they are experiencing depression or anxiety.

The Power of Women-Specific Treatment

Gender-specific SUD treatment for women offers a safe, compassionate refuge where mothers can tend to their mental health and work towards SUD recovery while surrounded by other understanding women. Typically, women-only SUD treatment programs integrate both evidence-based clinical modalities and themes relevant to women in a way that addresses the psychological, emotional, and physical aspects of SUD.

Some benefits of gender-specific care for mothers struggling with SUD include:
  • Addressing unique challenges of motherhood: Mothers struggling with SUD often face distinct challenges such as societal pressures, traumatic experiences, and the responsibility of childcare. Gender-specific care acknowledges these hurdles and provides tailored support to address them, recognizing that mothers have unique needs in their treatment and recovery journeys.
  • Creating a safe environment for vulnerability: Mothers may feel more comfortable expressing vulnerability and sharing personal experiences in a setting that involves only women and other mothers. Through a shared understanding of similar perspectives, a sisterhood often develops among participants, encouraging open, honest communication about their experiences as well as a sense of solidarity. By fostering trust and camaraderie, gender-specific programs create space for deep emotional healing.
  • Trauma-informed care: Many mothers have experienced past trauma, which can serve as a significant catalyst for substance use. Women-specific treatment programs often provide trauma-informed care, offering a safe space for mothers to confront and overcome the affliction of the past.
  • Holistic therapeutic approach: Gender-specific care recognizes the importance of addressing the holistic needs of women and mothers, including mental health, relationships, parenting, and self-compassion. Treatment plans typically incorporate various therapeutic modalities to promote overall well-being.

Gender-Specific Care For Women at Wasatch Crest

Located in Park City, our Jupiter residential treatment center provides a nurturing environment specifically tailored to women and mothers. Our program is designed to address the unique needs of our women clients, many of whom are mothers, by offering empathetic care to guide mothers through the complexities of SUD, trauma, grief, and loss. Through evidence-based clinical interventions, we help mothers navigate challenges while emphasizing the importance of self-compassion and fostering healthy relationships. By guiding our clients toward recovery and well-being, we aim to create a foundation for a life filled with joy and meaning. Reach out to learn more.

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