01 May Drug-dependent Mothers
Why do mothers misuse or abuse drugs?
The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that women generally use drugs to manage their weight, fight exhaustion, cope with pain, and self-medicate to address mental health problems such as postpartum depression and anxiety. Environmental factors may also include domestic violence, loss of child custody, or loss of a significant other through death or divorce. Research indicates that women are at the highest risk for developing a substance use disorder during their child-bearing years (within the age range of 18-44), especially before they reach the age of 30.
How do drugs and alcohol affect mothers’ ability to bond with their children?
Studies have shown that women who abuse drugs and alcohol have a difficult time bonding with their children. Findings published in Frontiers in Psychiatry reveal that between 43 and 79% of children with Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) have at least one parent with addiction, and mothers who have polysubstance use are two to three times more likely to mistreat or abuse their children. Drug-dependent mothers may exhibit any of the following dysfunctional traits:
• Tendency to ignore the child; lack of supervision and control
• Incoherent attitudes (e.g., alternating between over-involvement and passivity)
• Rigid and authoritarian parenting style
• Extreme punitive/threatening disciplinary methods
• Tendency to isolate the child from external influences
Children who grow up in this environment are likely to be precocious, reversing roles with their mothers who are unable to fully play the parental role. Mothers with substance use disorders neglect their children’s emotional needs, creating problems for the children’s adjustment later in life.
How this may affect your relationships today
Many drug-dependent mothers themselves come from dysfunctional home environments where they experienced higher than average rates of parental death, abandonment, chaos, substance abuse, physical abuse and sexual abuse. Unfortunately, the impact of a mother’s addiction can last for generations. Children who grow up in dysfunctional homes with at least one addicted parent will experience difficulties in forming close, intimate relationships with other adults and their own children. The stunted psychosocial development in children of parents with alcoholism or drug addiction will result in some of the following challenges:
• Trust issues
• Low self-esteem
• Attracting relationships with unhealthy romantic partners
• Inability to deal with conflict in a healthy manner
• Tendency to be unfaithful or to attract unfaithful partners
• Absence of emotional intimacy with significant others (be it romantic, platonic or otherwise)
• Difficulty asking for help
• Having no frame of reference for a normalcy (e.g., not knowing how to have a normal relationship)
Break the generational curse with dual diagnosis treatment
Whether you or someone you know needs treatment for drug and alcohol addiction, it’s never too late to reach out and ask for help. It takes one person to make the difference for generations down the road. If it’s a loved one you’re concerned about, one of the best things you can do is provide social support for your friend or family member, letting them know that you are there for them. Drug-dependent mothers are likely to stay in addiction treatment until completion if they know that they have the support of their loved ones without any stigma attached. New Method Wellness is a premier dual diagnosis treatment center in San Juan Capistrano, CA, where clients can select from a wide variety of holistic therapy programs that have helped thousands of clients live meaningful lives after recovery.
See why Dr. Phil recommends New Method Wellness!