Article by Jill Palmer – Recommended Addiction Resources

How to Balance Being a Single Parent and Avoiding Relapse



If you are a single parent in addiction recovery, you know that balancing kids, work, and sobriety often feels like you are a juggler with too many balls in the air. When you struggle to do it all, you become overwhelmed and stressed and face an increased risk of relapsing. Managing sobriety takes a concerted effort that includes a support system, a sober game plan, and activities that reduce stress. Our short guide will help you balance it all and stay on the path to sobriety.

Ask for Help

The challenges of being a single parent and maintaining sobriety are numerous. It’s difficult for individuals in addiction recovery to ask loved ones for help because they often feel guilty about putting their family through the pain their addiction caused. But, you need to understand that you will be more successful as a parent and have a better chance of maintaining your sobriety if you ask for help.

Help comes in many forms, so don’t despair if you don’t have family or friends who are unwilling to help. Many addiction support groups offer childcare because they understand that members need to juggle self-care with childcare. Similarly, many churches offer support groups for both single parents and addicts, and they often open their Sunday school rooms, multipurpose rooms, and nurseries to children so parents can attend meetings and gather strength and advice once or twice a week.

Single parents also often band together to assist with transportation to and from school, athletic practices and events, band practice, and more. Get to know the single parents at your children’s school and form a group to help one another. You’ll enjoy spending time with others who face similar challenges and you all will benefit from having a few extra sets of hands and vehicles when trying to juggle everyone’s schedules.

Create a Sober Game Plan

Most recovering addicts know their triggers, and it’s imperative for single parents not only to be aware of them but also to take steps to avoid relapse when triggers loom on the horizon. For example, if you know that you become more stressed when one of your children’s sports seasons or band seasons begins, attend more meetings or start looking for more help ahead of time.

Creating a sober game plan is an ideal way to get past triggers and get through times that are more likely to lead to relapse. You may alert your support system to check on you more frequently or ask your sponsor to attend stressful events with you. You also may want to keep water on your desk or by your bed if you are tempted to drink at night after the kids are in bed. Knowing when you are at a greater risk of relapse and how to avoid it will help you create a sober game plan and stay on the right path.

Find Ways to Manage Your Stress

Addiction and stress are a volatile combination, and many single parents in recovery point to stress as a trigger for relapse. Physical and emotional stress impede the recovery process by making cravings worse and adding pressure and anxiety to individuals. For single parents, one of the best ways to manage stress is spending fun time with your children. You need to re-prioritize tasks when you feel your stress levels rising and understand that taking time for fun will make your stress more manageable so those tasks become less overwhelming.

For starters, leave the dirty dishes in the sink and go for a walk together after dinner. Get the bikes out of the garage and go for a ride while dinner cooks in the slow cooker. Hit a nearby hiking trail and look for signs of the season. Organize a whiffle ball tournament with other single-parent families. Give yourself permission to spend fun time with your kids to relieve stress and reduce your risk of relapse. The dishes really can wait.

Single parents in addiction recovery can balance everything much more easily when they ask for help, recognize triggers and create a game plan for remaining sober, and spend fun time with their children to relieve stress.

Article by Jill Palmer  (

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References and Resources:

Welcome to Health Vista

Disclosing a Mental Health Condition to Others

How Parents Can Prevent Drug Abuse

Disability, Substance Abuse & Addiction

The Comprehensive Guide to Home Accessibility for People with Disabilities in Recovery

Financial Burdens of Mental Health and Addiction Treatment

The Guide To Keeping Your Home Through Debilitating Disease

8 Ways to Prevent Relapse

Healing After the Passing of Your Parent: How to Nurture Your Grief Without Drugs or Alcohol