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4 Hurdles Mothers Face in Recovery

February 13, 2020 , Agape Treatment Center

mothers in recoveryWomen, specifically mothers, in recovery from addiction face a unique set of challenges. According to a manuscript published in the International Journal of High-Risk Behaviors & Addiction, “most women participating in substance abuse treatment are of childbearing age, and many of them have children who both are affected by and influence the mother’s substance abuse and treatment behaviors.” Many mothers struggling with addiction share common obstacles that often include low self-worth, problematic relationships with family members, lack of support, as well as gender-specific stigmas that often impede recovery. 

Individuals on the path to recovery know that the journey is ongoing and presents many complicated barriers for all who embark on the road to sobriety. This can be especially true of the journey for mothers who undertake the seemingly daunting task of maintaining long-term sobriety. While both men and women face similar challenges in recovery from substance abuse such as detoxing, rebuilding broken relationships, and regaining physical and mental health, mothers in recovery face distinct challenges. Here are four hurdles facing mothers in recovery and five tips for long-term sobriety.


Trauma and Abuse

It is estimated that approximately 75% of women who have past substance abuse issues had a history of physical and/or sexual abuse. In comparison to men, women who were or are chemically dependent often suffer at the hand of multiple perpetrators who previously abused them. The vicious cycle of abuse often perpetuates the cycle of addiction for mothers seeking recovery. Women, especially mothers, are fiercely attuned to connections and relationships. Mothers who have experienced disconnection or violation within these relationships often face psychological problems that are commonly linked to a substance use disorder. Mothers who have experienced trauma and abandonment by the fathers of their children often face the struggles of supporting children on their own while attempting to maintain their sobriety. These issues are commonly fertile ground for addiction and relapse. Therefore, it is critically important for mothers in recovery to integrate trauma therapy when seeking treatment for their addiction.


Dual Diagnosis

The presence of co-occurring mental disorders and addiction is a common trend amongst all demographic groups. Mothers often face the pressures of maintaining a household and are susceptible to suffering from underlying mental health disorders. Mothers who are recovering from addiction commonly experience the following mental disorders:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • PTSD

For mothers, finding a dual diagnosis treatment center is crucial for long-term recovery outcomes. Additionally, women need to participate in treatment and aftercare programs that focus on the unique challenges that mothers in recovery face. 


The “Superwoman” Complex

The “Superwoman” complex is one of the most common obstacles for mothers in recovery from addiction. Many mothers that come into recovery have a lot on their plates. From maintaining a household, caring for children, being a wife, maintaining a career, and the idea of “keeping it all together”, mothers often feel the pressure to return back into their routines as soon as possible. Mothers struggling with addiction and recovery feel as though it is their responsibility to take care of everyone and everything. It is important for mothers in recovery to understand that they are unable to take care of anyone else if they do not first take care of themselves. The expectations of being a good wife/partner, career woman, mother, and friend can place undue burdens on mothers who are new to recovery. Without the proper support, mothers in recovery are at risk of falling back into a stressful life and relapse.



Many mothers that come into recovery have previous relationships involving family members or partners that were or are substance abusers, abusively toxic, or partners that are absent altogether. Therefore, mothers who are new to recovery often struggle with developing healthy relationships. Some may subconsciously seek out toxic relationships while others may dive headfirst into a deep relationship. Ultimately, these types of relationships take the focus away from self and recovery altogether. If the relationship does not go well, the emotional distress of that relationship can significantly impact recovery. It is absolutely vital for mothers in addiction recovery to focus on themselves first and establish stability and self-love before attempting to seek out new relationships.  


Addiction Recovery for Moms

Recovering from addiction is difficult in itself, and when you throw in the added responsibilities of motherhood, it can seem like an impossible challenge. For mothers who are struggling with addiction, there are often significant barriers that lie in between them and the help they need. Here are a few vital tips for mothers seeking continual sobriety in addiction recovery.

  • Build a strong community – Building a strong, supportive community with other moms who are also in recovery is a key component in maintaining lifelong sobriety. Only another recovering mom can understand the painful challenges and glorious triumphs of being a sober mother.
  • Practice self-care – Mothers are naturally compassionate caregivers, but without the balance of taking care of themselves first, mothers may struggle in sobriety. A crucial part of healing from addiction for moms is to practice self-care. 
  • Let go of resentments and heal – Many mothers have experienced trauma and other offenses from the people they love the most. Resentment is the number one offender of most alcoholics and drug addicts. Letting go of resentment and healing through individual therapy is a vital part of maintaining continuous sobriety.

If you are a mother or have a loved one that is, it is important to know that there are a variety of available treatment options specific to cater to the needs of mothers. Whether you are seeking inpatient or residential treatment, Agape Treatment Center can help. Our comprehensive approach to recovery ensures that every patient has access to a variety of individualized treatment methods. Providing uncompromising care and promoting long-term wellness to our clients and their families are our main priorities.