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The Single Parent's Guide to Substance Use Recovery

Oar Health Editorial Team

A closeup of a single parent as they hold their smiling baby.

May 18, 2022

In This Article

Overcoming substance use can be difficult in and of itself. But when you’re a single parent, a host of factors can make it even more challenging.

Drug and alcohol use puts a significant strain on family relationships, and this isn’t a rare occurrence. Increasing research suggests single mothers and their families in particular are vulnerable to addiction (1). A 2017 U.S. government study found 12.3% of children—nearly 9 million—live with a parent navigating a substance use disorder (SUD) (2).

Even if you’re ready to start recovery, it’s not always clear what resources are available for single parents dealing with substance use. And if you’re currently pregnant, you may be seeking information on how alcohol use affects you and your baby.

You’re not alone in these challenges. Resources are available that can help you in your journey to recovery, no matter what kind of support you need. 

Resources for Single Parents Overcoming Alcohol Use Disorder or Reducing Alcohol Dependency

There are plenty of ways to go about quitting drinking alcohol. Resources to help single parents overcome alcohol use disorder (AUD) include:

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)

The NIAAA is an organization funded through the National Institutes of Health (NIH) that provides both support resources and research into the effects of AUD. 

The NIAAA is an excellent resource for reliable information about the effects of alcohol on your health and on your family. They also provide a useful guide for talking to your kids about alcohol. Their treatment guide is a good place to start if you’re looking for online or residential recovery programs. 

Note that online programs may be more suitable for balancing family, work, and treatment in some cases.

SMART Recovery

One of the most useful tools in AUD recovery is support from others who have been through the process. SMART is a confidential and free nonprofit support program that offers both in-person and online meetings. 

Attending meetings online can help you stick with recovery while balancing your work and child care schedule.

Head to the SMART Recovery website to sign up and find meetings.

Oar’s Doctor-Supervised Online Treatment

Oar’s doctor-supervised naltrexone treatment program can be prescribed online, meaning you don’t have to find time in your parenting schedule for doctors’ appointments. The program connects you to a doctor and provides you with a mobile app to track your progress.

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)

AA is an alcohol treatment program based on peer support and a 12-step program. With both online and in-person options, you can likely find a meeting that works with your schedule. It's helpful to review and understand the 12 steps before attending your first meeting.

Visit AA.org to find an online or in-person meeting.

Alateen

As a caring parent, you already know your kids will be affected by your experiences with AUD. Alateen is an organization that provides recovery resources for the children of parents living with AUD. 

Alateen offers introductory literature with easy-to-understand explanations of AUD. Children can also attend support meetings in person, on the phone, or online.

Head to Alateen’s website to find a meeting.

National Association for Children of Addiction (NACoA)

The NACoA is an organization dedicated to providing resources and support for children whose parents are living with addiction. They offer Just4Kids and Just For Teens programs that include educational resources, 12-step recovery, and access to support networks.

Visit the NACoA website for information on their full range of services. 

Resources for Single Parents Overcoming  Drug Use

Single parents dealing with substance use disorders may find these resources helpful:

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)

SAMHSA provides information and resources on SUD and mental health. As a single parent, it may help to get educational resources on drug use for yourself and your children. You can also call their helpline to get confidential information about SUD treatments and resources.

Visit the SAMHSA website to find their resources, or call the helpline at 800-662-HELP (4357).

Outpatient Drug Treatment

Residential, or inpatient, rehabilitation for SUD is often not the most practical route for single parents. 

Because of this, some rehab facilities offer intensive outpatient treatments for people with child care and work commitments. These treatments are designed to match the impact of inpatient rehab through a range of addiction management methods.

Visit SAMHSA’s treatment locator and filter the results for “outpatient” to find outpatient programs near you.  

Narcotics Anonymous (NA)

Support groups can be a key tool along your recovery journey for day-to-day support. NA is an organization that provides local meetings across the world as part of a 12-step recovery program. 

Some groups are specifically geared toward women and parents. You may be able to find one of these in your area. 

Visit the NA meeting search page to find a group near you.

Narateen

Drug use can affect the way your family navigates their own lives. Narateen is a free peer support network geared toward teenagers with parents who are living with addiction. It’s designed around the 12-step recovery framework. The organization provides both online and in-person meetings.

Head to the Narateen website to find a meeting.  

Safe Families for Children

In some cases, residential rehab may be needed. If finding child care during treatment is difficult, Safe Families for Children can source host families for your children to live with while you start recovery. 

You can locate Safe Families for Children services in your area via their website. 

Resources for Single Parents Overcoming Nicotine Addiction

There are many reasons for overcoming nicotine addiction besides improving your own health and longevity. Secondhand smoke is dangerous too: Around 2.5 million American nonsmokers have died from secondhand smoke since 1964 (3). 

The following nicotine addiction resources can help you and your family:

Truth Initiative 

Truth Initiative is an organization geared toward educating people — particularly young people — about the dangers of nicotine addiction. Their website provides educational resources for both adults and children. You can also sign up for Truth Initiative’s  free BecomeAnEX quit smoking app.

Visit the Truth Initiative website for more information.

Smokefree and Smokefree Women

Smokefree is a U.S. government-backed initiative to tackle nicotine addiction. They provide information and resources to help you quit smoking and manage your cravings. This includes access to mobile apps, information on medications, and a text quitline. 

Smokefree Women also offers specific resources for the unique challenges women may face around nicotine addiction, particularly during pregnancy. 

You can visit the Smokefree and Smokefree Women websites for more information. You can also text the quitline by texting “QUIT” to 47848.  

Freedom From Smoking

Freedom From Smoking offers in-person and online support resources to help you quit nicotine. The program also provides information about preventing your children from starting smoking. 

Visit the Freedom From Smoking website for information about programs in your area. 

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

The CDC is a scientifically credible agency that offers fact-based information on the impact smoking can have on you and your children. Knowing the health facts can be a good motivating factor for quitting. 

Head to the CDC’s smoking and tobacco use page for full details.

Nicotine Anonymous

People living with AUD and SUD are not the only ones who can use support programs. Nicotine Anonymous offers a 12-step program to quit smoking. It offers meetings online and in person to accommodate a range of schedules.

Head to the Nicotine Anonymous website to find meetings or for more information. 

Additional Resources for Single Parents Coping with Addiction

For additional resources to support your recovery and your family, refer to:

Affordable Care Act (ACA) Insurance

Being able to afford addiction treatment is a primary concern for many people, including single parents. 

Addiction is no longer considered a preexisting condition under the ACA. This means you can now access affordable insurance plans that cover addiction treatment, even as a new enrollee. 

Visit the Health Insurance Marketplace for more information on eligibility and enrollment.

SAMHSA Family Resources

Your family’s experiences surrounding your addiction can be a source of stress, pressure, and uncertainty. Directing them to SAMHSA’s educational and support resources for families coping with mental health and substance use disorders may bring some clarity and relief

Your family can access these resources on the SAMHSA Resources for Families page

Remember, you’re not powerless in your recovery journey. You have resources at your disposal to help you find the right treatment plan that works for you. 

You can also use tools to ensure your kids are safe and supported throughout the process. 

Recovery may not be easy, but both you and your family can overcome the challenges of addiction.

About The Author

Oar is a telemedicine platform that makes science-backed, medication-assisted addiction treatment approachable and accessible for millions of consumers who feel excluded by the current treatment landscape and who may have a wide range of goals, from moderation to abstinence.

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