Recently a local church-going family became aware of their wife and mother’s addiction to alcohol. Carol had managed to hide her addiction from her husband and children (now teenagers) for over 18 years.
About the same time, Nancy, also a wife and mother, woke up yet again in a shelter for the homeless. Nancy has been separated from her husband and young children for over 3 years due to her struggle with alcohol and cocaine.
Addiction is a curse to many individuals, couples and families. There are two main routes to addiction. Firstly, one may start abuse of drugs/alcohol through acceptable social experiences. The individual seeks pleasure. On the other hand, one may start abuse of drugs/alcohol to escape pain. In the end both routes lead to pain.
The stigma society attaches to women struggling with addiction is much greater than to men who struggle. This is due in part to society seeing women as the main nurturer in the home. The question is asked, “How can a mother be a positive role model when suffering from the effects of addiction?”
Shame can be an overpowering emotion for women struggling with addiction. The attitude of, “What will people think if they find out I am not who they think I am?” keeps women from seeking help. Also, one of the main motivators for women to seek help is the same reason many women do not seek help – children. Most women want to be healthy for themselves and their children however the number one concern I hear as a Psychotherapistis fear. Fear of having their children taken away once authorities and/or family members find out there is a problem. Depending on support systems available to individual woman this fear is sometimes very real.
What Can Be Done?
Firstly, if you are reading this article and think you may have a problem, find out. Seek a medical professional, professional Psychotherapistor support group. There are also tests and information available through the internet and through community health services via telephone.
Secondly, if you have decided you have a problem and want to take action you have just entered the second step to recovery. Congratulations!
The third step of recovery is behavioral. Get active in your recovery. This can be scary at first. This is normal. The bottom line is that you need to walk your talk. Stick with it. Do not be discouraged if you relapse. Get up and keep going knowing millions of others have gone before you and succeeded.
Source: Shon Louise McLaren
* The names listed in this article have been changed.
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