If you’re in the depths of drug or alcohol addiction, you can find a way. And for the sake of all those things you care about so deeply, you must. Here’s how one mom tackled obstacles to achieve sobriety.

#1 Keeping the Household Running

For some moms, alcohol and other drugs are the “little helper” they rely on to cope with the challenges of daily life. They can’t imagine balancing it all without it. “We pile up all these logistics — laundry, cleaning, taking care of the house — that have to happen before we can get well,” says Dana Bowman, a wife and mother in recovery who wrote Bottled: A Mom’s Guide to Early Recovery. “But once you recognize how deadly this disease is, you realize all those logistics are little details. They’re mental excuses we set up and there are ways around them.”

Bowman spent years telling herself she couldn’t cope without alcohol. Of course, as she knows all too well, using drugs to manage stress and loneliness backfires. Alcohol is a crutch that prevents you from learning healthier ways to cope, and can actually make anxiety and depression worse. Then you have a drug problem to deal with on top of the stresses of motherhood and daily life.

#2 Time Away From Your Kids

It’s hard to be away from your kids for an extended period of time. Children need their mom. But are you truly there for them when you’re abusing alcohol or other drugs?

The entire family benefits when mom goes to rehab. As a head of household, it’s not always an option to just pick up and go. Making the transition may require some planning. One of the first steps Bowman took was to ask for help.

“I put together my little tribe of trusted friends,” she says. “They didn’t understand addiction, they weren’t in recovery. But I could tell them about my problem and on days when I was totally losing it, I could go to their house and cry.” She could count on the three women in her “tribe” to watch the kids or lend a hand when needs came up, and after she got home from rehab, they’d babysit so she could go to meetings. Bowman was also fortunate to have a supportive spouse who stepped in to help around the house, take care of the kids and became the “world’s best grocery shopper” while she addressed her alcoholism.

If you don’t have friends or family you can count on, there’s still hope. Some drug treatment centers and meetings are kid-friendly, and there are self-help groups that connect parents with other parents so they can watch each other’s kids. Depending on your situation, outpatient programs, which allow you to balance home and work life with recovery, can be a good place to start. It’s not as easy without the support of friends and family, but it can be done.

Bowman also tried to embrace “slob mom” until she got her footing in recovery. “I embraced every sort of survival,” she says. “I bought Lysol wipes and frozen food. The kids watched a lot of TV and got away with things they shouldn’t have. We accepted this is how we were going to roll for a few months, just as we would if I was in the hospital with cancer.”

#3 The Financial Cost of Drug Rehab

High-quality addiction rehab can be expensive. But the price of not getting drug rehab treatment is much higher. In addition to the damage you’re doing to yourself, every day that you continue abusing alcohol or other drugs, you put your children at risk. Children of addicts are at high risk of addiction when they get older as well as a host of other ills such as anxiety, depression, conduct disorders, perfectionism, low self-esteem and academic problems. These issues can impact every area of life but they’re problems you can help prevent by getting treatment. Research shows the family’s burden lessens when the addicted parent stops drinking or using.

Thanks to the Affordable Care Act and other legislation, insurance covers addiction and mental health treatment at higher levels than ever. Some treatment centers offer sliding scale payments, payment plans or discounts. Many centers have admissions advisers who can help you find money in places you may not have thought of and piece together a plan that’s workable for you.

Budgeting was a huge trigger for Bowman, who regularly blogs about her recovery from alcoholism. The thought of tackling it made me want to run screaming into a large bottle of vodka, she says. Five years after getting sober, she’s still working on it. I had to put my big girl pants on and become an adult. It took time for her to learn how to talk to people and express her honest thoughts and opinions, how to take care of herself and prioritize her recovery, and how to do basic things like get an oil change. By necessity, she discovered the importance of being gentle with herself.

#4 The Stigma of Addiction

Stigma stops many people from breaking through denial and asking for help. Despite scientific evidence showing addiction is a treatable disease, many still believe it’s an issue of willpower or a character flaw. The judgment is amplified when the person with addiction is a mom who may struggle to care for her children because of her dependence on drugs.

Bowman battled stigma throughout her recovery. She worked hard to maintain the illusion of a happy, blissfully immaculate home even as the foundation was crumbling beneath her. After she got sober, the challenges continued. In a society that still shames and judges people with addiction, she struggled to strike a balance between being honest about her recovery and oversharing unnecessary details.

“When the fog starts to lift, things get even harder,” she explains. She wanted to fix everything and it couldn’t happen fast enough. Over time, Bowman made schedules, got out of the house more, spoke up for her own needs to safeguard her sobriety, and stopped trying to look like supermom so she could embrace her true self.

Make the Decision, the Rest Will Follow

There are always reasons not to change. But what Bowman discovered is If you’re trying to do something positive for your body and soul, the universe will respond. And the hard work of recovery yields better returns than any other investment you’ll make. My relationships with my husband and kids are so much better, says Bowman. People in recovery are some of the coolest, funniest people I’ve ever met. It’s the greatest life I’ve ever known.

By Meghan Vivo


Choose a better life. Choose recovery.