Single Dad in Recovery: How Do I Cope?

father holding his daughter on the doorstep

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Being a single dad comes with its own hardships, but raising children while in recovery can be a completely different challenge. What are some ways you can maintain your recovery while still showing up for your kids?

Getting Better for Them

Early recovery can be challenging, especially if you have children. It can become even more difficult if you are the sole caretaker. However, the love you have for your children should work as your motivation to get better and stay better. Your children love you and care about you. Focus on the love you feel for your children to keep you on track in your recovery.

Tackle Your Legal Issues

Many parents dealing with substance use issues might have legal problems related to their addiction. It’s common for parents who have been arrested for using substances to lose custody of their children. After treatment, it should be a priority to deal with any outstanding legal issues, especially if they involve losing custody of your kids. Follow the requirements of the law in order to have access to your children again. Often, this includes having to pass a drug test and have proof of employment. Educate yourself on what is required and work on winning these rights back as soon as possible.

Choosing Programs With Your Children in Mind

Aftercare programs are highly recommended for those who have completed treatment because addiction recovery is ongoing. When you graduate from your treatment center, you’ll want to consider which programs are offered that could fit around the schedule of a single parent. There are plenty of opportunities that provide part-time services. Schedule your one-on-one therapy or group therapy appointments while your children are off to school or daycare or when they might be with the other parent. Look into options that allow children to be present or offer daycare services.

Don’t Keep Your Recovery a Secret

Chances are your child already knows that something is wrong. The worst thing you could do is keep your addiction from them. Depending on their age, children might internalize the wrong information about your recovery. Some children might blame themselves while others might burden themselves to fix your situation. Sitting down with your child and having an honest and open conversation about your addiction can do wonders for your relationship and how they process a very traumatic part of their lives.

When talking to your children about your addiction, make sure the conversation is age-appropriate, and then open the floor to any questions they might have. They might not respond positively, but over time they will be open to further conversation about your recovery process and your journey to get better.

Include Your Children in Your Recovery

In addition to telling your child about your addiction, it’s also a great idea to include them in your recovery. Many treatment programs offer family counseling that allows for open dialogue with a trained therapist. Your child can also join you in forming healthy habits that will benefit your recovery. Invite your child to cook healthy foods with you or join in on a fun exercise. Your child might feel good participating in helping you get better while learning healthy habits on their own.

Manage Your Stress

It’s no secret that being a single parent is stressful. You might have coped with stress in very unhealthy ways in the past. In treatment, you’ll learn how to manage stress healthily, but the key is learning how to apply that to your daily life as a parent. You can use many different tools to manage stress, like prioritizing your health, practicing mindfulness, and catching the early warning signs of too much stress.

You can manage your stress by exercising regularly, getting plenty of sleep, and eating a healthy diet. It would help if you also practiced mindfulness as a way to stay aware of your emotional state before things become too difficult to handle.

Ask For Help

They say it takes a village to raise a child, and this adage exists for a reason. There might be a lot you can handle on your own; however, you shouldn’t hesitate to reach out to your support system if things are becoming too difficult to manage. Reaching out for help doesn’t mean that you aren’t a capable parent or that you are weak in any way. Reaching out is actually a sign of strength. Ask for help from friends or family, from anything to emotional support to providing daycare.

Being a single dad isn’t easy for anyone, and when you are recovering from an addiction, it can become that much more difficult. There are plenty of obstacles and challenges, from speaking candidly about your addiction with your child to even potentially requiring life stability to regain custody. However, raising your child isn’t impossible with the help of loved ones and taking time to care for yourself. Don’t hesitate to reach out for help if things become too complicated. You can lean on your community.

Jaywalker Lodge knows the difficulties of being a single dad in recovery. Plenty of Jaywalkers can relate to the stress of raising a child while battling addiction, but with the help of a supportive community and the right tools, they’ve been able to be number one dads. If you would like to learn more about coping with addiction while being a single father, call us today at (866) 529-9255. 

author avatar
Stefan Bate, MA, LAC, CCTP Chief Clinical Officer
Stefan Bate, BA, MA, LAC holds a Master's Degree in Applied Psychology from Regis University and is a Licensed Addiction Counselor in the state of Colorado. Stefan has wide-ranging experience in the field of addiction recovery including: working as a recovery coach, therapist, and program director.

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