For mothers who are active in addiction and trying to get sober, getting treatment and support to achieve and sustain recovery is challenging for a variety of reasons. Women in general face unique gender-specific challenges related to biological, social, and cultural differences and biases. 

Mothers are particularly vulnerable to social discrimination and legal repercussions concerning custody of their children when substance abuse is involved. This can create a barrier to getting access to treatment and recovery resources.

Mothers in compromised situations such as domestic abuse and trauma cases often need specialized and individualized treatment services and medical care. Mothers with infants and young children also may need childcare support during their treatment.

With the right support network and therapeutic resources, mothers can have a chance at success in recovering from addiction, and create healthy, sustainable lives for themselves and their children. 

Barriers to Treatment 

Women face many gender-related obstacles when it comes to finding and attending appropriate treatment programs for substance use disorders. Women in caregiver roles have even more disadvantages and challenges when it comes to getting access to treatment for addiction.

Societal biases and stigmas against mothers with substance use disorders have historically presented a significant challenge. Single mothers often face the pressures of financially supporting their families on a limited income, while simultaneously battling addiction and trying to fulfill their roles as caregivers. 

Mothers may avoid seeking treatment if doing so would cause them to lose welfare benefits and financial assistance they need to support their children. The public welfare system in the past has been punitive towards women in active addiction or with medical records indicating a history of substance abuse.

Treatment Programs For Mothers

To break down the barriers for mothers in need of help for addiction, integrated treatment programs have been developed in support of mothers with substance abuse issues, including pregnant mothers and mothers with children of different ages. 

These programs provide pregnancy, parenting, and childcare services in combination with addiction treatment in a variety of therapeutic environments, including residential, inpatient and outpatient. Some integrated residential programs provide safe housing and therapeutic communities for women with children who need longer-term treatment. 

Integrated treatment programs for mothers typically include services such as:

  • individualized therapy
  • group therapy
  • medication-assisted treatment (MAT)
  • maternal mental health services
  • trauma treatment
  • parenting counseling
  • education assistance
  • prenatal education
  • maternal medical care
  • nutritional services
  • employment assistance
  • case management 
  • child care
  • children’s services
  • aftercare services

Support Programs and Services for Mothers in Recovery

Aftercare is a crucial part of addiction treatment, and for mothers in recovery it can help them sustain sobriety while developing a support network in their local communities. Continuums of care can entail a variety of services, including ongoing individual therapy for mothers, family therapy involving children of mothers in recovery, and group therapy with other mothers in abstinence. 

One of the primary goals of family-centered treatment and aftercare programs is to engage and empower mothers to be sober, responsible, and confident women and caregivers who can take care of their own health needs as well as their children’s.

For women who are in recovery and still dealing with emotional trauma, trauma-informed support groups and educational programs can help them to continue identifying triggers and stressors that affect their mental health. 

Addiction affects families, not just individuals, and as such, the entire family unit needs to heal together. Family therapy can help mothers and children reunite and reform emotional bonds as mothers continue to navigate their own recovery journeys. 

Mothers in recovery can also support and empower each other by engaging in community support programs and networks. Community resources such as parenting classes, job training, education programs, and support groups are all positive opportunities for women to get involved in sober networks for mothers.