Even though the social stigma associated with being a single mother is much less severe now than it was even a decade ago, it doesn’t mean it’s any less challenging. Whether you became a single mom by choice or not, there are many struggles single mothers face. Below, let’s focus on one horrible challenge in particular – addiction. It’s a deep dive into addiction risk factors single mothers often face to try to raise more awareness of this issue.
Single mothers and addiction
Single mothers face a unique set of financial, emotional, and mental obstacles. Financial strain can impact mental and emotional well-being. Finding a work-life balance can be incredibly stressful, and single moms may feel guilty that they are not doing enough to meet their child’s needs or that they are neglecting them by leaving home for the office.
Although both single mothers and single fathers face similar difficulties, single mothers often face more severe financial hardships. Research shows that single mothers have a 35.6% smaller average income than single fathers, on average. As a means of coping, they may engage in unhealthy behaviors, such as excessively drinking within a short time or abusing drugs. That can lead to addiction and negatively affect their kids.
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), children raised by a parent with substance abuse issues are more likely to exhibit symptoms of substance use themselves. That further puts them at risk of developing poor mental and emotional health as adults. Luckily residential drug rehab offers an opportunity for individuals struggling with substance abuse to engage in healing with a supportive and caring community. This type of treatment is often regarded as the most successful way to take on addiction. It provides patients with round-the-clock care, allowing them to focus exclusively on their recovery in a safe and secure environment.
Residential rehab also encourages positive lifestyle changes by giving the individual time away from their everyday life, enabling them to focus all of their attention on breaking their tie with addiction. It can be an empowering experience that goes beyond shared knowledge of sobriety; it creates an atmosphere of acceptance and understanding, inspiring a newfound sense of self-worth in those seeking it.
Also, substance addiction in solo mothers can create an environment in which a codependent parent-child relationship grows. A kid may feel responsible and obligated to care for their mother.
Six addiction risk factors single mothers often face
To raise awareness of this important issue and help struggling single mothers find healthy ways of coping with their challenges to avoid developing an addiction, I reached out to expert counselors from Bright Futures Treatment Center. They explained the most significant addiction risk factors single mothers face.
1. Stress, stress, and more stress
It’s not a secret that single parents are under tremendous pressure. When it comes to single mothers, the stress only multiplies.
As the sole breadwinner, single moms often find it challenging to juggle employment and their child’s needs. The motherhood penalty forces the stress further. This penalty is one that non-mothers and men don’t face. The mom is seen as less competent and less committed to their career than the former. For instance, they may have harsher expectations placed on them at work, a lesser chance of being hired or promoted, and lower salary recommendations made on their behalf.
Even when doing their best and reading every single mother’s survival guide, there will be times when they feel overwhelmed and anxious. A stressed-out single parent might resort to booze or drugs to feel better. But this method of dealing with stress can easily become addictive over time.
2. Isolation and loneliness
Having no one to turn to for advice or assistance when raising a child can be a daunting and lonely task. Unlike couples, single mothers don’t have a dedicated partner to help them out at home.
That can be incredibly isolating. Considering that substance abuse is a common result of social isolation, it’s no wonder so many single mothers out there are battling it.
3. Lack of a proper support system
Whether it’s due to distance from extended family or a lack of financial support from the other birth parent, solo parents sometimes find themselves in need of help. Also, having less time to socialize can make them grow distant from even their closest friends. A lack of community can have a devastating effect on a single mother’s emotional well-being and quality of life.
In these situations, it’s not uncommon for solo moms may turn to drugs or alcohol as a coping strategy. That’s why it’s crucial to know when to seek help and recognize the signs it’s time to get professional support. It’s difficult but crucial to reach out to professionals for help.
4. Low income and poverty
Data shows that poverty is more common in single-parent homes. Compared to two-parent families, those headed by a lone mother are five times as likely to live in poverty. The low wages of available occupations and the absence of other forms of financial aid contribute to the problem. Research suggests distinct, disturbing inequalities in poverty and income between single parents.
The burden of paying the rent and providing for a child’s bare necessities can be overwhelming, leading to despair and worry. Studies suggest that children living in poverty are already at a greater risk for developmental and behavioral difficulties, adding another layer of stress to their lives.
5. Surviving domestic abuse
One-third of women worldwide have been victims of physical or sexual violence in the home. A single mother may have left her partner, yet she may still be dealing with the effects of past trauma.
Coping through unhealthy behaviors, such as consuming dangerous drugs, could occur. Increased odds of developing a substance use disorder have been associated with the onset of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
When someone struggles with PTSD, they may also engage in substance misuse as an attempt to self-medicate. The assumption is that by consuming substances, a person with PTSD will start to heal. Unfortunately, this is only short-term and, in most cases, leads to spiraling into addiction.
6. Job instability
In the United States, most single parents (62.9%) are employed full-time, and 80% are single moms. However, when it comes to compensation, there is a significant gender discrepancy, favoring solo fathers.
To make ends meet and compensate for the lack of additional income, single mothers sometimes may find themselves working more hours or holding two jobs. Adding the fact that only 46.4% of single moms receive full child support in the US adds to the stress.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, it was particularly challenging for single moms to make ends meet. Many schools and daycares were forced to close for extended periods due to coronavirus regulations, making it difficult to find reliable childcare. It was an impossible position for many single parents.
Unfortunately, the addiction risk factors listed above are not the only ones that single mothers often face. If you or someone you know are struggling with substance addiction, it’s imperative to seek professional help as soon as possible. Addiction center experts provide the tools and support to help rebuild your life.