Outpatient Treatment for Parents
New parents, on their first night home from the hospital, may spend hours watching the wee little chest rise and fall, rise and fall, wondering how they’ll be able to live up to the expectations that little person might have for them. If these parents use drugs, the needs of the child might be almost too hard to bear. After all, addictions can be just as demanding as small babies, as both expect to be fed on schedule and both can cause quite a fuss if they’re ignored.
It’s a difficult problem, but outpatient treatment programs for addicted parents can provide the help people need in order to leave addictions behind. In a way, therapy can help people meet the needs of that sleeping baby, and when the work is done, parents will have a roadmap they can follow to help that little child grow up into a healthy, happy, non-addicted adult. The therapy provided in a program like this could help people to become even better parents than they might have been before they started using drugs.
Why Specialized Care Matters
Outpatient addiction treatment programs are designed to help people learn how to resist the urge to use and abuse drugs, and it’s quite possible that any outpatient program could provide meaningful help to parents trapped by addictions. However, the specialized care provided inside a program made just for parents could help these individuals in deep and profound ways, making specialized care worth fighting for.
According to the Treatment Episode Data Set, one in two people who enter a treatment program for addiction leave before that program has been completed. Those who aren’t forced to enter treatment due to an arrest or some other form of law enforcement action run a great risk of dropping out of care, as they may not have any motivation to continue with the work. It’s vital, therefore, for addiction treatment programs to identify the reasons behind a person’s wish to get sober, and when those reasons are known, the program must remind people of those triggers on a repeated basis. For parents, children might be the ultimate reason for sobriety. Parents might want to keep their children with them, instead of losing them to later law enforcement action, and they may want to be good role models for the children they’re raising. By entering an outpatient program just for parents, these people will be assured of constant reminders of the importance of their children, and that might motivate them to stay involved in care.
Additionally, many parents structure their identities around the roles they play for their children. As an article in the journal Qualitative Health Research puts it, the parental role can work like a lifeline for some people, pulling them through deep challenges and difficult situations. Where people might be tempted to give up all on their own, they continue to push through due to the roles they play as parents. In an outpatient program, the children become the goal to reach for and the yardstick by which to measure success. Outpatient programs for addiction are aware of this issue, and they work hard to respect the parents’ roles.
Programs for parents might also provide amenities parents need in order to participate, including:
- Centralized locations near bus lines
- Safe, child-friendly housing coordination
- Daytime hours of operation (instead of evenings and weekends, when children are home)
These perks might seem minor, but they could be the ingredients a parent needs in order to take advantage of the help offered by the program.
Cravings for drugs are often treated with prescription medications, and parents can have special concerns about these drugs. For example, breastfeeding mothers may worry about taking medications for their addictions when they’re still functioning as the main source of nourishment for their small babies. There’s a significant amount of confusion on this score, and the recommendations can vary as a result. For example, a study in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology suggests that mothers who take methadone for drug addiction pass very little of that drug in their breast milk, but even so, some babies can develop symptoms due to their exposure. Individual chemistry, drug dosing and more could all play a part here, and it can be hard to understand.
Programs for parents are likely to utilize staff members who understand these issues and who can provide appropriate education and support. The medications chosen might hold a low risk for babies, for example, and drug levels in both mother and child might be checked periodically, just to ensure that all is progressing as it should. This might be a level of monitoring that’s too difficult for a standard program to handle, but it might be simply part of the process in an outpatient program for parents.
Improving Parenting Skills
Many addictions have a genetic component, meaning that parents who enjoy drugs might pass on their preferences to their children through their genes. However, addictions can also form as a response to childhood trauma, and there is some evidence that children who grow up in addicted households tend to develop their own addictions as they grow. For example, a study in the British Journal of Psychiatry found that people who were addicted to narcotics had more “disturbed parenting” than people who were addicted to alcohol. Studies like this seem to suggest that parenting problems lead to addiction issues, meaning that stopping the cycle is vital.
Addicted parents might need assistance with a variety of core skills that could all be lumped together under the heading of “good parenting,” including:
- Anger management
- Rule setting
- Time management
- Clear communication
Children can be a source of stress, and without good parenting skills, parents might respond to that stress by using drugs. Parenting classes attempt to give parents new skills they can use when things go wrong, and these skills might help them to create a better environment for the little ones in their care. The parents might feel better, and the children might be less inclined to develop their own problems in adulthood.
Family Therapy Choices
Parents with older children might have made poor choices in the past, and their family relationships might be less than ideal as a result. According to a study in the journal Addiction, addiction is often associated with low levels of parental involvement, while other problems commonly associated with addiction might better be placed at the feet of other problems, including poverty and environmental stress. Even so, low levels of involvement can result in children who are distrustful, fearful or angry. Raising a child like this can be difficult, and unless the issue is amended, the child’s behavior could work as a trigger for a relapse to addiction.
Family therapy is designed to help parents and children come together to discuss the addiction issue, and the group can develop tighter connections and work through past trauma with the help of a loving, trained guidance professional. The work can be painful, but it can be vital in helping the parents reconnect with their children, and stay sober in the process.
If you’d like to find out more about interventions made just for parents, or you’d like to learn how to find a program like this, please call us. Foundations Recovery Network treatment programs are designed to help people overcome their addictions, while maintaining ties with the important things in life. We’re happy to help you find the solution you’re looking for.