If you are struggling with addiction to drugs and/or alcohol and are also a parent, you may feel lost as to what to do to get help.
It is not like you can just admit yourself to rehab and no one will know. You have to find someone to care for your children, therefore admitting to people that you have a problem and need help. Some fears that may crop up are: What will my children think? Who will care for them? How long will I have to leave them? Will social services take my children away if they find out that I have a problem? What kind of parent am I if I have to leave my children? These questions and fears can rattle our minds, bringing on guilt and shame. This can leave a parent stuck in their addiction, which will only make matters, and parenting, worse.
I am a single mother of five children. After my divorce from their father, my few drinks every now and then increased at a rapid rate, leading me right into alcoholism.
“After nearly a year of drinking every day, I knew that I needed help.”
I could not stop on my own. I knew I needed to go into a drug rehabilitation facility, but I did not want to tell my ex that I had a problem, I did not know who to ask to watch my children, and I didn’t want to leave my children. Asking anyone for help meant I had to explain that I was struggling with a problem with alcohol. I feared that someone would take my children away from me.
For a period of about six months, I tried repeatedly to stop on my own. I white-knuckled the shakes and the DT’s, only to pick right back up where I started. I promised myself that I would not drink, and within the first twenty-four hours, I had a seizure and fell, almost landing on my twins, then four years old, who were playing on the floor. My other three children were 6, 10, and 12 years old. My oldest called 911, and an ambulance took me away. I do not know who watched my kids that night. I do remember that they asked me at the hospital if I drank, and I lied.
My promise to myself did not last long. I did not realize that not drinking caused the seizure until I had a second seizure. Then it clicked. One weekend when my children were with their father, I went through DT’s by myself at home. Let me tell you, I do not recommend this at all. Within days, I was drinking again. I knew I had to stop, but I did not know how.
“I felt like a failure as a mom and as a human being in general.”
I was ashamed to tell anyone that I had a problem. I felt guilty that I could not stop, and I did not want to leave my children to go to rehab.
The third seizure I had was in a supermarket. I was on my second day with no alcohol. I promised myself that I was going to quit. I left my kids in the car (the oldest was thirteen by then) to run in and get some bread and milk for them. Standing at the refrigerated section, I leaned over to pick up a pound of butter and felt very shaky. Next thing I knew, I was on a gurney being pushed into a helicopter. They cut off all of my clothes and stapled my head back together. I felt them pour disinfectant into my head, and when the second staple clicked, I lost consciousness, not to awaken for a few days.
Who was watching my kids? I had no idea because I was unconscious. I was told the story later. My oldest daughter called my father and her father. Between the two of them, they picked up the kids and got my car home. My children must have been so scared. I couldn’t even imagine the fear that I put them through, to watch me walk into the store, and leave in a helicopter.
It took all of this for me to get honest with myself, my children, and my family, and admit that I needed help. I realized that the short time that I would be away from them so that I could get sober would be worth it in the long run. I made a commitment to myself and to AA, doing ninety meetings in ninety days. I left the kids with family members or friends or took them with me to meetings when I had to.
If you are struggling with an addiction and do not know what to do with your children so that you can get the help that you need, reach out to people who love you. Parents, family, and friends are usually more than willing to help. The short time spent in inpatient residential treatment will be well worth it. It is very difficult to leave our children, but keep in mind that you are doing it for not only for yourself, but also for them. Being sober has given me the gift of enjoying my children. Now when I feel I’ve made a mistake, at least I know it is not because I was drunk. Parenting take patience, love, and tolerance, not only with our children, but also with ourselves.