Starting a family as a recovering addict can present many emotions, from joy and delight to fear and stress. Per Wickstrom recently spoke with me about how to handle new parenthood while in recovery.


As the owner of several successful rehabilitation facilities, Per has seen many of his former patients go on to lead happy, healthy, and sober lives, which include the journey to parenthood. In this interview, he helps us understand how to remain sober while handling the demands of being a new parent.


How can recovering addicts make a successful transition to parenthood?

First and foremost, it is important to note that recovering addicts all have the capability of becoming successful parents. Many of my patients express concern over this topic, but I have found that, with the right tools and knowledge, anyone can raise a happy, healthy child. In fact, recovering addicts often have an advantage, because they have gained many life skills and coping techniques during their time in rehabilitation.


That being said, parenthood is not something that should be taken lightly, whether you are a recovering addict or not. Emotional and financial stability are a must for anyone who is considering having a child. If you are a recovering addict, however, the proper treatment facility will give you the skills you need to achieve a balanced and healthy lifestyle, suited for children. So, once you are ready, talk to your physician for more practical tips for pregnancy and preparing for a baby.


How can recovering addicts cope with the stressors of new parenthood?

Pregnancy is a joyous occasion, but anyone can feel stress and worry when it comes to raising a child. You may wonder if you will be a good parent, you may feel stress about labor and delivery, or you may worry about the health and wellbeing of your unborn baby. Once your child is born, you will have to cope with a new set of stressors, including sleep deprivation, nighttime cries, and spit up on every surface in your house. Though these pregnancy and child rearing concerns may seem overwhelming, it is important to remember that they are completely normal for all expectant parents.


For a recovering addict, it is essential that these stressors do not become a trigger for relapse. If you are having difficulty handling new parenthood and you feel that relapse is a possibility, it is necessary that you reach out for help. There are a plethora of resources you can turn to, including friends, family, physicians, sponsors or mentors, or mental health professionals.


I can guarantee that you aren’t the first new parent to need help with a newborn, they do say that it takes a village to raise a child! If the stress or lack of sleep makes you feel like you may turn to illicit methods for relief, get help immediately. Remember that your actions now impact your child’s health as well as your own.


When you can get a break, ensure that you continue to practice your relaxation techniques, such as meditation or yoga. Use what you can to soothe both yourself and your baby, including walks, listening to music, or reading aloud. Importantly, continue to attend any aftercare programs, doctor’s appointments, or therapy sessions. Even though you may be tired or stressed, these meetings will help you cope with new parenthood and remain on a sober path. If you feel isolated, contact your support network and keep in mind that all new parents go through a complex array of emotions when welcoming a new life into the world.


If you’d like to hear more from Per or receive more of his great advice, he writes regularly for his blog and is available on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook.


Author's Bio: 


Jennifer Scott is a lifelong sufferer of anxiety and depression. She created her website,, as a platform for advocacy on opening up about mental health. Through the site, she hopes to share the types of steps and success stories that can help others realize their own power. When she isn’t working on her website, she enjoys traveling, working with animals, and seeking out new friendships and adventures.