Making the decision to seek treatment for an addiction is not easy for anyone. What if you are a mother and seeking help for yourself means being separated from your child? What if you fear that seeking help for yourself will cause you to lose your child? 70% of women entering treatment have children and 80% of the single parents in the United States are women. One of the largest barriers to treatment for a woman with children who suffers from a substance use disorder is a fear of the unknown when it comes to the future and care of her children. When we prioritize the mother child relationship, we remove barriers for women and increase their chances for a successful recovery.
DCCCA believes that women should not have to leave their children to participate in treatment. There are two primary reasons why allowing women who suffer from substance use disorders to bring their children with them into treatment makes sense:
Research tells us a woman’s relationship with their children plays an integral role in her substance use, treatment, and relapse.
A woman entering treatment needs to work on moving forward; if she is worrying about where her children are and what is happening to them she cannot fully focus on the work ahead of her. By including children in the treatment stay we are able to treat the whole person. A woman who is learning skills to balance the stresses of parenting, work, and sobriety can practice and implement those skills with the benefit of her treatment environment as a safety net.
The services we provide at DCCCA are diverse and help reduce barriers to long term recovery. Parenting skills training, health and wellness services, family therapy, case management support to access employment and housing, and referrals for domestic violence intervention are just a few of the unique offerings.
Parental substance abuse interrupts a child’s normal development placing them at higher risk for emotional, physical and mental health problems. These children are also at risk of child abuse and neglect, developmental problems, and adolescent substance use.
Therapeutic services and parenting support improve the prognosis and outcomes for mothers and their children.
Stability and routine are important for children as they work to overcome trauma. Children of substance abusers are often frightened, they love their mothers and worry about them. Removing a child, especially a younger child, from their mother while she works on her recovery can introduce more trauma, particularly if the child is not old enough to understand why their mother has to go away.
Maintaining a routine with their mother while observing her work to recover can have more substantial positive outcomes for children. Giving women a chance to practice the parenting and coping skills they are learning while they still have a safety net in place builds a foundation for a successful recovery.
Children age 12 years and younger can stay with their mothers while in treatment at DCCCA, attending school or the program’s licensed child care center during the day. At meal times, at bedtime, or during leisure time, mothers may receive hands on teaching and role modeling from staff as they navigate the joys and challenges of parenting without substance use.
Mothers are assisted in accessing community resources to address their children’s physical, emotional, and educational needs. Pregnant women participate in extensive well-baby services. These women often return to the residential program after their babies are born to continue their recovery.
When whole families are treated, outcomes for each individual member improve. Simultaneously the communication, coordination, and ability of adult members to support one another and the children increase. Prioritizing the mother-child relationship during treatment lays a strong foundation for a healthy family relationship throughout the journey of recovery.