How To Fight Addiction As A Single Parent

Published by John Gillen | Last updated: 8th January 2021

How To Fight Addiction As A Single Parent

As societal norms change, it is becoming increasingly common for parents to split up and for a single parent to take custody of the children.

Statistically, women are more likely to be the primary caregiver for children and are thus more likely to end up as single parents. However, this isn’t always the case and both sexes can struggle with the responsibility of becoming a lone parent.

One of the main stressors for single parents is their wish to provide everything for their children that they would be able to if they were still in a couple; financially, emotionally and physically. However, single parents have to spread themselves incredibly thin in order to make enough money to keep their family afloat, which also offers considerable stress and anxiety.

For many single parents, drugs and alcohol are a common lure as a coping mechanism, offering moments of relief from an otherwise punishing schedule. But what happens when these coping mechanisms start to take over and cause problems of their own?


Addiction And Single Parents

Substance abuse, as defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), is “A maladaptive pattern of substance use leading to clinically significant impairment or distress is manifested by one or more of the following, occurring within a 12-month period:

  • Recurrent substance use resulting in a failure to fulfil major role obligations at work, school, or home (e.g. repeated absences or poor work performance related to substance use; substance-related absences, suspensions, or expulsions from school; neglect of children or household)
  • Recurrent substance use in situations in which it is physically hazardous (e.g. driving a car or operating a machine when impaired)
  • Recurrent substance-related legal problems (e.g. arrests for substance-related disorderly conduct)
  • Continued substance use despite persistent or recurrent social or interpersonal problems caused or exacerbated by the effects of the substance (e.g. arguments with spouse about consequences of their intoxication, physical fights).”

For single parents, this pattern of neglecting important tasks and responsibilities can be catastrophic to their home and family. They will generally find that they are having repeated issues with work and money, as well as mental health issues caused by their addiction. These effects impact both themselves and their children.

In two-parent families where one parent is suffering from an addiction, this is bad enough, but in families where there is only one parent, this is bound to have long-lasting and extremely damaging effects to the entire family unit.


Access To Treatment

It is clear that a single parent suffering from addiction desperately needs to get rehabilitated in order to secure their family’s future, but, just as there are more issues based around being a single parent which can lead to addiction, there are also more issues surrounding access to treatment.

Challenges that a single parent might face when looking into addiction treatment might include:


Financial Challenges

Most single parents will have some difficulty making ends meet at some point, and for those suffering from addiction, it can be even harder to keep the family financially stable. There is a financial cost associated with going to rehab, which is exacerbated by the fact that there could be a need for extensive time off work in order to complete a treatment programme. For many single parents seeking rehabilitation, this financial factor can be a considerable challenge.


Finding Child Care

A single parent is already the sole carer for their children, meaning that there is no one to fall back on if they need to enter a rehab centre for a month or more. Some families are close, with extended family members on hand to look after children for some time, but this isn’t always the case. Rehab can take a long time to complete, meaning that a single parent must find someone who is prepared to take on their children for prolonged periods.


Higher Risk Of Losing Custody

For single parents who are not in an easy place with their ex-partner, admitting that they have an addiction and going into rehab could give that partner the ammunition they need to seek sole custody of the children. For those worried about this point, it is important to remember that courts will look far more favourably on a person who has gone through rehabilitation than someone who still has an active addiction.


The Stigma Of Addiction

There is a stigma associated with substance abuse, and it is one which does not reflect well in parenting circles. For single parents trying to maintain a certain image whilst struggling to stay afloat, the idea of being ‘outed’ as an addict can be too much to bear.


Lack of Treatment Options

Whilst there is an abundance of treatment services available in big cities, NHS funding for such services is often being cut, and there are far fewer options, to begin within rural areas. Many single parents without the time to research and find local treatment options, simply do not know where to turn if they decide that they want to undergo treatment for their addiction.


Keep Seeking Treatment

Although there are more considerable barriers to treatment for single parents, there are ways to overcome each and every one of these, and all of this begins with being upfront about your addiction and facing it head-on.

Doing nothing about a substance abuse problem means that the situation is just going to develop over time and get worse and worse until it is taken out of your hands. By making the decision that you want to get help and enter rehab for your addiction, you are taking the first step towards a better future.

Cassiobury Court offers a range of treatment options dedicated to helping anyone to beat their addiction. We offer advice and support as well as rehab services, so just by contacting us on 01923 369161 or texting HELP to 83222, you can get advice from a skilled professional on what your next move ought to be.

Our rehabilitation programmes last for up to 90 days and you get a full year of free aftercare, where you will be able to speak with support staff around the clock to ensure that you stay healthy and happy outside of the service.



John Gillen

John Gillen - Author Last updated: 8th January 2021

John Gillen is a leading addiction treatment expert with over 15 years of experience providing evidence-based treatment methods for individuals throughout the UK. John also co-authors the book, The Secret Disease of Addiction, which delves into how the addictive mind works and what treatment techniques work best.