The moment you become a parent, your entire life changes. The wellbeing of your child becomes your number one priority. But to give your child the best possible care, you have to take care of yourself, too — especially if you’re in addiction recovery.
We had the opportunity to speak to several addiction survivors who told us about how their journeys affected their role as parents. These are a few pieces of wisdom they shared on defeating their substance abuse, finding sobriety, and becoming the best parents for their kids.
Ryan had experimented with substances since he was a teenager. His substance abuse got him kicked out of school and even led to several arrests, but quitting one drug inevitably led to him picking up another. By the time he graduated from college, things seemed to be on the rise — on the surface.
“I started my own company as an artist manager in the music industry. I had my dream job at 22, was engaged to the love of my life, and traveling around the country. But, with that lifestyle, there was a lot of drinking — for free,” he explained.
From there, his substance abuse spiraled completely out of control. When he faced an unexpected pregnancy with his ex-girlfriend, Ryan panicked.
“I moved to LA, didn’t tell anyone about the pregnancy, and ignored my problems. My ‘addicted brain’ told me if I ignored things, they’d go away,” he confessed.
His denial took him back across the country several more times, and his alcohol abuse skyrocketed. He finally found the right addiction treatment program to get his life on-track, and as he put it:
“Things fall into place when you do the next right thing.”
Ryan said going to rehab opened his eyes to the kinds of changes he needed to make to be a better man, and a better parent.
“Other than my daughter — I feel like a completely different person,” he reflected. “I can’t believe I lived the way I did for so long. I’m making up for lost time.”
Today, he said he’s focused on taking his sobriety one step, one day at a time.
“I realized how selfish I was for so many years. But you can’t change the past,” he reflected. “I’m really blessed. My daughter is still so young she won’t remember all of this, and I still have the chance to build a relationship with her.
“Treatment for me was about self-discovery and learning to be my best self,” he continued. “It’s always been there, but it was covered up for a long time.”
Cori battled addiction most of her life. When she decided to start a family of her own, however, she wanted to leave it in the past.
“I stopped using to try to have a baby,” she explained. “I had several miscarriages, but was finally able to have what I thought was a successful pregnancy. At 19 weeks, however, I was put on bedrest with the fear that I may lose yet another child.”
She and her husband moved in with her mother-in-law, who had alcohol abuse issues of her own. Cori was committed to promoting a healthy pregnancy, but her environment proved to be detrimental to her recovery.
“When I finally gave birth to my son, I stayed sober through nursing him, but immediately went back to drinking and drugs after that,” she said.
“I wanted desperately to stop using, but couldn’t even go to the clinic because I was with my baby all day, every day.”
Cori said she struggled with the idea of taking time away from her son, but knew rehabilitation was the only way to find lasting sobriety. She checked into the Treehouse, and said the shift in setting put her at immediate ease.
“The second I got there, I had no desire to use,” she remembered. “It removed a huge, dark, disgusting cloud over me that I wanted to escape.”
Now that she’s in recovery, Cori says it’s the love for her child that keeps her going.
“I think about my son, and I connect with him everyday. I’m present for him now, not distracted thinking about getting drugs,” she said.
Ryan and Cori are truly inspiring examples of the power of a parent’s love. Ryan’s final advice to parents in recovery is good advice to anyone with children:
“Don’t be afraid to ask for help. As addicts, we have a false sense of pride. Ask for help, take suggestions. People truly want to help. Anything is possible.”