Women Seeking Help and Overcoming the Stigma of Mom Guilt

Women Seeking Help and Overcoming the Stigma of Mom Guilt

Dr. Norris Von Curl, II, MD

Dr. Norris Von Curl, II, MD

Mothers know the pain of mom guilt – that feeling of not having done enough, sacrificed enough, or worked hard enough. Today, society makes demands of mothers like never before. Facing these stresses can lead mothers to feel that they have failed. What’s more, these stresses in modern society cause some mothers to escape mom guilt through the use of alcohol or drugs such as opioids.

Women often face ridicule when something goes wrong in the family, even when there are two parents involved. This leads many women to feel they are inadequate as mothers and partners, even when blame can be shared. In turn, feelings of shame and depression result. Some of these women try to escape those feelings through the use of addictive substances.

At First Steps Recovery, we help women find peace and strength through the alumni networks made up of women just like them. Facing family problems is hard, but addictive substances never help to fix the problem and ultimately only worsen it. In the First Steps program, women build resilience and empowerment, which helps them to overcome mom guilt.

The Dilemma of Mom Guilt in Substance Abuse Treatment

A large percentage of women who are currently in treatment programs for substance use are of childbearing age. Many are already mothers. A mother’s substance use or abuse tends to affect the whole family. Unfortunately, the children are often the most affected.

This is why the role of family during a loved one’s intervention, especially a mother, is important for creating a positive outcome. The way women can overcome mom guilt during substance use treatment is by knowing they are valued. A treatment team can convey that value to mothers, thereby strengthening their ability to become and remain healthy. What’s more, they can attend family therapy.

These conclusions and more are according to findings published in the International Journal of High Risk Behaviors & Addiction. Researchers found that the role of the family is extremely important in the outcome of substance use treatment and recovery. Mothers who attended family therapy saw better outcomes, believed family benefited their eventual recovery, and saw improvements in their relationships.

Motherhood and Women’s Needs in Addiction Recovery

Being a mother and a caregiver can sometimes be the motivating factor in seeking treatment for an addiction. On the other hand, some moms resist seeking help, fearing the social and legal repercussions of admitting their problem. There is no reassurance that a mom may not face legal issues, but seeking treatment is always the best overall solution.

These fears create barriers for mothers when seeking treatment for substance use disorders, and these barriers must be overcome. At First Steps Recovery, we understand the difficulties women with addictions can have with the United States legal system. That is why women receive parental training and family engagement during the First Steps program to alleviate some of the burden.

Mom Guilt and the Shame of Addiction

At First Steps Recovery, we also understand that women of color are some of the most under-served people in substance use treatment. In communities of color within socioeconomically disadvantaged regions, women need extra help to seek treatment for substance abuse. According to the Journal of Nursing Scholarship, women of color have better success when matched with transitional housing.

Sometimes it takes a helping hand and a step up to reach beyond the places women are too often confined. First Steps Recovery matches clients with transitional housing that meets the high standards set by the First Steps care team. Overcoming guilt and shame is tough, but it is made easier with the right care team on a mother’s side.

The Psychological Effects of Dependence on Women

No one can understate the devastating psychological effects addiction has on women that lead to mom guilt and depression. Depression is one of the most commonly occurring and often dismissed mental health conditions in the United States, affecting millions of Americans every year. What might seem like sadness could be depression, and left untreated it can have serious consequences, including substance use.

When people experience feelings of inadequacy and failure, they will tend more toward feelings of sadness and depression. Depression is a treatable illness, but it is important that depression symptoms be evaluated, not dismissed as just sadness. At First Steps Recovery, clients learn techniques in therapy that can help them find their way back from depression.

The Trauma of Mom Guilt on Women’s Psyches

Substance abuse often happens when people do not deal with their trauma. Few things are more traumatic than mom guilt. Women often face more trauma in their lives than men, taking on more of the burden of society’s woes. It is hardly surprising that the problems of the family are unfairly attributed to women and mothers.

Women who experience trauma that leads to addiction need a special kind of therapy to overcome their problem: trauma-informed care. At First Steps Recovery, women overcome mom guilt by engaging in trauma-informed therapy where they learn to cope and thrive. Developing the right coping skills can make all the difference in finding success with addiction recovery.

Overcoming Mom Guilt With Words That Matter

Words matter when it comes to providing comfort, and that could not be truer when treating mothers in addiction recovery. Mothers so often feel mom guilt because someone else has made them feel unworthy of being recognized or validated. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), words can both perpetuate the stigma and convey compassion.

Words and talking are at the heart of one of the oldest and most effective forms of therapy: individual and group counseling. These types of counseling help clients to talk through their issues and find solutions within themselves. Talk therapy provides an invaluable resource to women as they seek help for substance use and finally overcome mom guilt.

In the United States, women are more likely than men to experience opioid addiction. With all the pressures and stigmas facing women, perhaps none is more damaging to them than mom guilt. Women are made to feel guilty for any problem facing their family, regardless of their role or the presence of a partner. Moreover, women who seek treatment for substance use disorder (SUD) may be made to feel guilty for seeking help. If you are a mom seeking treatment, know you are valued at First Steps Recovery. Call our care team at (844) 489-0836 and let us help you and your family by providing trauma-informed care and counseling to get you where you need to be. 

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