Single Dads, Stress and Substance Use Disorders
Although the majority of children under 18 in the U.S. live in two-parent households, a substantial number live with just one parent. Around 2.5 million homes are those of single dads.1
While this figure represents a significant number of families, taken in a national context it is quite low, representing less than one percent of the population. What this means is that single dads are still relatively uncommon, and that can bring its own problems. Many single dads report that not being able to share their problems or experiences with others in the same situation is isolating and stressful.
The Dangers of Stress
Raising children in a two-parent home is a challenging task. That challenge becomes even greater when a parent has no one to share the burden with. Single dads may find that they are experiencing chronic stress, which greatly increases a person’s vulnerability to addiction.2
When single dads feel stressed, they may turn to alcohol or drugs to relieve the stress. While this may work in the short term, it does nothing to resolve the problem. At this point, it becomes likely that the use of drugs or alcohol will increase to the stage where it is causing problems in other areas of their lives, such as financial problems, medical complications or legal problems. If this happens, that’s when single dads need professional treatment.
Treatment for Single Dads With Substance Use Disorders
Single dads can face further difficulties when they eventually realize they need treatment to help stop using substances. Since they often have no one to rely on to step in and look after family affairs, they have to build their treatment programs around their family duties.
There may be other family members, such as siblings, aunts, uncles or grandparents who can step in to help with the situation. Some single dads may feel reluctant to admit to other family members that they have an issue with their substance use. However, there is a good chance that these they are already aware that everything is not running smoothly, and they will be only too happy to help as much as possible. Extended family members tend to view getting help as a positive step.
Ways to Manage Stress
Getting help when substance use disorders arise is the best way to restore balance and health, but people exposed to chronic stress also need to find ways to alleviate stress without using alcohol or drugs. One of the best ways to reduce stress is to build a strong social network. That network can include family members, other single dads or single parents, friends and people who share the same interests.
If you are a single dad who feels stressed, try to get time away from the family, and use that time to enjoy active pursuits like walking or cycling. Set yourself new goals and challenges, such as learning a language or improving your sporting prowess. Learn to think positively. Bringing up your kids alone is tough, but think of how rewarding that challenge can be—rather than focus on the difficulties.