“I think once I made up my mind that I was allergic to alcohol,
and that's what I learned, it made sense to me. And I think it was
kind of pointed out that you know if you were allergic to strawberries,
you wouldn't eat strawberries. And that made sense to me.”

- Betty Ford, U.S. First Lady and founder of the Betty Ford Center

Many factors can influence the entire sphere of substance use disorders (SUDs) - how they can manifest initially, how quickly they progress, and the type of substances that are involved. However, for women, they are unique factors also at play in the evolution of a SUD, namely:

Sex  Biological differences, and
Gender: Existing differences that stem from society’s culturally-defined roles for men and women.

Take a look at U.S. government statistics published in 2019, and you will see that 19.5 million women (15.4%), aged 18 or older, have used illicit drugs, including the misuse of prescription medications, during the last calendar year. Importantly, these findings further found that:

Women commonly used substances differently to men, eg. using smaller amounts of specific drugs in a shorter timescale before becoming addicted,
Women can respond to substances differently, eg. their drug cravings can be more intense, making them more likely to relapse after treatment, and
Women who used substances can have further unique issues related to hormones, their menstrual cycle, fertility, pregnancy, breastfeeding, and menopause. 

Now, having taken all of the above into account, and what it could actually entail in practical terms, let us throw one more factor, albeit an exceptionally important one, into the mix - motherhood. Having the parental responsibilities, as well as a mother’s own needs and wishes, to also accommodate during any recovery from a SUD places a whole host of new and unique pressures onto someone who is trying to fight a substance addiction.

Let’s put this simply. Unless a woman, a mother at that, is given the additional professional help and support that they need during the recovery process, the chances of a successful family future, one free of substance abuse, are demonstrably reduced. However, outpatient rehab for drugs provides the most flexibility in being able to continue being a mother and in seeking that all-important addiction recovery.

If you ever find yourself in this daunting position, here are your “4 Helpful Tips for Mom’s Attending Outpatient Rehab” - practical and professionally-sourced advice for mothers who are actively recovering from a SUD, especially those undergoing an outpatient rehab program, without further compromising everything they hold dear to simply being a mom.

1. Practicing Self-Care

Remember the advice they give you as part of the usual plane emergency demonstration? About the oxygen masks dropping down and putting yours on first before helping someone else, even a child sitting next to you? That’s exactly what this is about - the importance of caring for yourself so you are then in a position to be able to help others.

As those with a SUD will know only too well, practicing self-care is not really on your daily “to-do” list. However, if you wish to get well and recover from this disorder, self-care is vital, even more so if you are a mother too. Doing the basics - eating well, exercising, dealing with stress - need to be practiced on a daily basis, so put it on your own list.

2. Building a Strong Support Network

The decision to seek recovery from a SUD is yours, and yours alone. However, once you do get clean and sober, staying that way is not something you should face alone. So building a strong support network - a community of people to help you when you really need it - is another important step in ensuring a successful recovery.

If you are feeling vulnerable or concerned at any time during your recovery process, let someone know. You are never alone if you accept it’s ok to ask for help - please remember that.

3. Dealing with Resentments

Resentments that have been left to fester, even during recovery, will come back and bite you. The feelings, undealt with, may have been the precursor initially to substance abuse; however, they will certainly be the precursor to any relapse.

Letting go of these resentments involves learning positive and healthy ways to deal with anger and other emotions associated with resentment itself, and is an essential part of recovering from addiction. 

4. Finding Your Spirituality

One of the most important elements of a successful recovery is the need to address your spirituality. All major and successful recovery centers promote this as a crucial part of the holistic approach to addiction treatment - treating the body (physical), the mind (mental) and the spirit (spiritual). To ensure your best chance of a successful and long-lasting recovery, you need to fully address this element too.

The concept of spirituality can mean many things to many people. Here are some ways to develop your own concept:
Make time for reflection
Spend time in a natural environment
Learn meditation and mindfulness
Find meaning and purpose in your own life (for many mothers, this is simply their children)

Women’s Recovery: An Addiction Treatment Solution, Solely for Women

Women’s Recovery, based in Denver, CO, and Dillon, Summit County, CO, offers intensive outpatient treatment (IOP) and case management services and recommends recovery housing services for women. As their Chief Clinical Officer LaTisha Bader, Ph.D., LP, LAC, CC-AASP, says about the program:

“IOP is a laboratory for recovery, getting to learn, practice and refine the skills needed for long term success.”

Women’s Recovery is a clinically savvy, trauma-informed, luxury environment for women to continue their addiction treatment, providing high-quality clinical treatment for SUDs within a sober living environment.