The Drug Addicted Mother I Never Understood | Lake Arrowhead Recovery Center

drug addicted mother devastated by loss
I bought into the stigma of the drug-addicted mother, until I became one.

I never understood how drug addicted mothers were able to walk away from their family, especially from their children.  As a mother, we are meant to protect our children, not harm them.  Doesn’t she understand that her children need her?

I never understood those women who were in jail for not paying child support.  Even in a co-parenting relationship, aren’t the mothers typically the parent who has primary custody of their children?

I never understood how a woman could continue to use while being pregnant.  Was she intentionally trying to harm her unborn baby?

I never understood how a mother could give CPS (Child Protective Services) a reason to get involved in her family’s life.  Did she not want her children?  Did she not love them as a mother should?

Both of my kids are fast to sleep in my bed.  They look adorable and I know just how lucky I am.  My sobriety is indeed a blessing.  Yet, it’s these quiet moments that I dread.  My mind begins racing. The thought of drug addicted mothers and the effect it has on her children ravage my thoughts. I think about how my kids mean the world to me.  I would do anything and everything for them.  They will grow up in a loving home without lies, deception, criminal activities, and drugs.  As their mother, I vow to protect them for the rest of my life.  I mean, that is what a mother is supposed to do.  Right?

Recovery strengthens the protective bond of motherhood
All a mother wants to do is protect her children. Even a mother in her addiction and especially in her recovery.

The Stigma For Drug Addicted Mothers

Our society will never understand the effects that drug addicted mothers and fathers have on their children. They will never understand babies born addicted to drugs because the mother felt she could not stop using while pregnant.  Some people do not understand why a drug addict can’t simply stop.  They will never understand. Nor will they try to understand.   That is the stigma of addiction.

The stigma of addiction is bad enough.  Now add in the fact that the drug addict is a mother or pregnant with her first child. Too scared to ask for help due to the stigma of it all.  Even other drug addicts stigmatize drug addicted mothers.

Now, before I come off as a saint preaching to the choir, hold on just a moment.  I was one of those addicts who stigmatized drug addict mothers.  I didn’t understand.  That is until it was my turn.  Until that was me.  Until I did everything that I despised and criticized.

The Irony

I became that mother.  A drug addicted mother.  A pregnant woman who used every day of her pregnancy.  Despite what my doctors told me, I didn’t change.  The day I went into labor, I was trembling, in fear of what I knew was going to happen.  When I left the hospital after giving birth, my baby was not with me.  In fact, he would never be with me. Instead of getting help and following CPS’s stipulations to get my child back, I did nothing.  All I did was slip further into my addiction.  I became worse than I ever thought possible.

That is the scenario for many drug addicted mothers.  You, me, her, all of us that go through it.  We hide deep within our addiction to try and cover up the pain. We imagine that it is some sort of sick nightmare that we will wake up from.  Unfortunately, it’s not a bad dream that will end.

Hope for mothers addicted to drugs
Don’t give up because you are an addict and a mother. There is help and hope.

Don’t Give Up

As addicts with a baby on the way or children already, there are many reasons we choose not to get help.  As irrational as it may seem.  Here’s why.

  • Scared of CPS involvement
  • People’s criticism and negativity
  • Fear of losing custody of child(ren)
  • Admitting the severity of the situation
  • Being a failure in the eyes of our children

Take it from me, do not give up on being the mom your child needs. Sobriety is the key to success for drug addicted mothers.  You will not have to do it alone.  There is help.  I regret that I didn’t take the help that was offered.  If you get help now, you can stop this situation from getting even worse.  No mother wants to neglect, harm, or lose custody of their child.  

How Can We Protect Our Children?

From a drug addicted mother to a mother in recovery, I will tell you, it gets better.  I live every day thinking about how I can change my past but the truth is I can’t.  The world keeps spinning, life continues on. My life didn’t stop and neither did my little boys’.  I love my children, all of them.  We will never be able to correct the mistakes of our addiction. The questions will remain.

Why could I get clean for my other children but not my first?

Is he really happy?

Could I have given him a better life?

Would I have raised him better?

Would he rather be living with me?

Does he cry over me it as I cry over losing him?

Does he wonder why I was a drug addict?

Over the years, these questions will haunt you.  They still haunt me. Even as drug addicted mothers, we never mean to intentionally harm our kids.  So, why do we do it?  Truth be told, there is no simple answer. I am just glad that I got sober so I can be a part of his life.  My only wish is that I would have gone into treatment and began sobriety much sooner.  I still have to live with the choices that I made back then.  That’s why you need to make the right choice from the start.

Second Chance

My first born is now ten years old. I missed out on so much.  It was not ever meant to happen this way.  Never did I think that I would lose my child.  Most mothers in similar situations, don’t comprehend what will actually happen.

Thankfully, I now have a relationship with him.  He doesn’t love me unconditionally like my little ones do but, he knows that I’m his mom. He knows that I was a mess and doesn’t hate me for it.  I am grateful that he has given me a chance to love him.  A chance to be in his life.   

Sober Solution For Drug Addicted Mothers

Let me tell you from experience.  Those questions I think about.  They will never go away.  I could ask him for answers but, am I really ready to hear what he has to say?  Will he even tell me?  For now, I am grateful for a second chance with him.

If you are a drug addicted mom, please get help before it’s too late. Before you lose the chance to have and hold your baby.  Mothers are supposed to love their children, protect them, raise them, care for them, and nurture them.  Don’t let drugs destroy that.  Don’t let the stigma of being a drug-addicted mother stand in the way of the mother you can be.   Sobriety is the only solution.  It may be hard but it will be worth it. It’s time for you to be the mother that your child has always needed you to be.

When Recovery Hits Rock Bottom | Lake Arrowhead Recovery Center

 

Hitting Rock Bottom In Addiction Recovery
When I hit rock-bottom in recovery, it’s worth the climb to get back up.

I hate this feeling. I hate hating myself. I hate the hopeless, helpless, nothingness that consumes me. I want to scream and cry and give up all at once. This is my rock bottom in recovery. This is the part of me that I don’t let anyone see. The part that I hide with eye-drop filled bright eyes and forced laughter I can only feel in my cheeks. It’s the part of me that sits in front of the mirror, sometimes for hours, wondering why my nose is so perky; my arms so short; my thoughts so fast that my body can’t possibly keep up. I keep doing it – keep picking out every little flaw and realize that somehow, I became this person that is disgusted with my own image. I look away with utter disdain and use all my energy to forget it – ignore all of it for as long as possible; bury it and bury it and put that squinty smile out there until eventually I feel the pressure coming from inside. It’s like I can’t ignore it anymore. I begin to ignore any progress I’ve made in the days and weeks of therapy, sweating away at the gym, slaving over my work, and can’t help but think of the miles and miles of work to do – how far I still have to go to get even close to where I want to be. Where do I even want to be? Just when I think I can’t stand feeling like this anymore, it seems like I come right back to it. My sweet boyfriend tries to make me feel better. He hugs me and brings me my favorite flavor of ice cream, but this isn’t same-day surgery and ice-cream isn’t a quick suture. I don’t get to put a bandage over it and pretend that the wound isn’t there.

What Does Rock-Bottom Look Like?

It’s different for everyone and for some it doesn’t even happen. What does yours look like? Some people hide it like I do – I don’t even see the crash coming. Maybe it looks different from yours. Maybe your rock-bottom can be seen from a great distance away, more like a meteor! I’ve been there, too.  Hitting rock-bottom once doesn’t mean that you will be there again. There may be moments in life where we find ourselves slowly sinking. Maybe we don’t sink as low as last time, maybe we sink lower – it’s a term we are used to hearing and the meaning is ours alone – not what anyone else gives to it.

climbing Back From Rock Bottom In Recovery
In addiction recovery, I am climbing for my life, but there is always light above. I need only look up.

Climbing For My Life

So, what pulls me out? What makes me want to wake up the next day, drag myself out of bed, and continue with life? I am blessed because I have so many reasons to keep climbing. It’s difficult to pull up out of the darkness because of just one thing, so I rely on many things that I control and they don’t depend on anyone else. It requires a list of things and this is mine.

  • Hope. The sun will always come out. I can always hope for a brighter day, it might not come tomorrow or the next day but it will come eventually. It has to, that’s just the way life works. There’s always darkness before there’s light. Hope for better days, hope for better circumstances, hope for better feelings. I fully believe that we influence our destiny. You become what you think so if you’re thinking of brighter things they will eventually come to be.
  • Passion. Find something that you care about and submerge yourself in it for a bit. Spend time doing something that makes you feel good, something that can make you feel better. Get lost in the process of finding a passion. Try different things and figure out something that you can embrace.
  • Take care of yourself. I know you’ve heard it before, eat healthy and exercise. Really it helps though. Spend an hour per day focusing on your health and letting go of some stress. Maybe exercising isn’t your thing. Do yoga, go for a walk, take a bath. Spend time rejuvenating yourself. Make yourself a cup of coffee then sit and enjoy it. Paint your nails. Get yourself a massage. Do something that makes you feel like you matter.Learn to love yourself. This is one of the most important parts. Learn to practice self love and your world will change. You’re not always going to do things perfectly, especially when it comes to recovery, but if you love yourself it makes things a little bit easier. So how do you do this? Start by finding one thing per day that you love about yourself.
  • Learn to forgive yourself. This is another important thing. You’re going to make mistakes. It’s so much easier to love myself when I can forgive myself for the mistakes I make. We all do it though. They may be big mistakes and they may be small but dwelling on them doesn’t fix them. Apologize if needed, forgive yourself, and move on! It’s easier said than done, but the more you practice owning your mistakes and forgiving yourself the simpler it becomes.

Find things that can bring you out of those dark places. Find things that make your recovery worth the pain. There is light above – all you need to do is look up.