When you’re welcoming a new baby into your family, the world feels like it’s turning inside-out and upside-down. Leaning into the good moments and learning how to cope in a healthy way with the bad are some of the most important lessons you can soak up in early parenthood.
Although birth classes and parenting classes can teach essential skills, they sure aren’t teaching ways to handle substance use in parenthood. It can be a taboo topic, but there’s no denying that the stress of a newborn, sleep deprivation, financial concerns and strain on your relationship could be a trigger for substance use.
Even if your drug and alcohol habits are casual, in a time of major transition and stress substance use could spiral. Put yourself on guard and get the support you need to manage drug and alcohol addiction during parenthood.
As you’re welcoming into the world a new bundle of joy, keep in mind these four tips to help you stay sober in early parenthood.
Pay attention to your stress levels
That new baby is going to give you a run for your money. You are going to reach levels of exhaustion you didn’t know existed, and your finances might be stretched thin. All this is proof of your love for your new baby, but that doesn’t mean you escape without suffering the emotional toll.
Anticipating and acknowledging your stress is going to be important to stay sober in early parenthood. Don’t deny or hide it if you’re feeling overwhelmed. Your partner probably is, too, and having an open conversation about how you both need a break can be a relief.
Enlist the help of friends and family, or hire a babysitter or housekeeper to give you and your loved one a break. Babies are a lot of work, and letting the stress build up is not healthy for you or your family. Accept help wherever it is offered and ask if it is not.
Do some prep work
There is a lot of preparation to do before the baby comes. Getting a nursery set up, preparing baby supplies and educating yourself on labor and delivery can make it feel like you’ve got another job before the baby is even born.
In addition to this prep work, you’ll also want to prepare for potential weak spots and triggers to substance use. Consider some common parenting worries that could come up and how they will affect you. How will you feel when your in-laws invade or when the baby won’t stop crying? Lots of parents face feelings of insecurity when they’re taking care of a baby for the first time- consider how this will impact you.
Chat about these difficult moments with your partner and decide on a possible course of action in tricky moments. You are not the first one to struggle with substance use in parenthood, and there are resources to help you in this time of change. Schedule extra appointments with your substance use counselor or tell your sponsor to be ready for a late-night call. You’ll be glad you did some prep work when the time comes.
Maintain a healthy outlet
Before the baby is born, and even during pregnancy, you’ll need to set up a system where you can escape from the pressures of life without falling into bad habits. Expecting perfection of yourself could result in a rushing out the door with nowhere to turn to but old substance use habits.
When you know triggers are bound to arise, you’ll be able to cope with those urges in a healthy way. Anticipate that you’ll need an outlet and have a couple ideas in mind when you start to feel overwhelmed.
Identify places you can go that won’t compromise your sobriety and offer calming or distracting activities. Go shopping, go to the gym, see a movie, grab some food at your favorite restaurant, or go to a friend’s house. You’ll need to have a couple healthy activities you can do when you need to get out of the house. If you have no outlet to release stress, that’s when drug and alcohol use can creep back in.
Get professional help
If you don’t have a mental health professional on your team already, it’s time to get started. Substance use in parenthood is a twofold issue that you’ll want to address before it takes a toll on your family. Taking a step back from parenting duties to get yourself help is better in the long-run and your partner will thank you for it.
Drug or alcohol addiction in parenthood is not a battle you should face alone. This is one of the most exciting times of your life, and you don’t want to be clouded with substances for those memories. Get the support you need by reaching out for professional help.
Even with your new busy parenting scheduled you can get the help you need with Pyramid Online Counseling. Pyramid Online Counseling offers convenient and easy options with teletherapy that can help you end your drug and alcohol addiction in parenthood. Reach out today or call 833-525-3077 to find out more.