Mothers Fear Losing Children Due to Addiction Support

The number of women in Ireland reporting alcohol abuse and drug use has been steadily rising in recent years and is continuing to do so. However, statistically, women are still a lot less likely than men to attend addiction treatment, with only 3 in 10 people accessing addiction treatment in Ireland being female.

There are a number of reasons for this, but one of the major barriers for women, specifically mothers, suffering from addiction and seeking addiction treatment or support, is around their children. With Mother’s Day celebrated at the weekend just gone by, we decided to focus this blog around the topic of Mothers and addiction.


A common fear for Mothers suffering from an addiction is the perceived fear of losing their children. Mothers are worried that if they were to admit their substance abuse issues and attend an addiction treatment programme, that social services may get involved. This acts as a significant barrier to treatment for Mothers.


When the vast majority of Fathers are accessing addiction treatment, they don’t need to worry about who will take care of their child as the Mother is ordinarily available to do so. It’s important to note that this not the case with all Fathers but is generally the case. In contrast to this, women are statistically more likely to have primary responsibility for their child which acts as a significant barrier to attending treatment. Even if the treatment is a community-based programme, rather than a residential treatment programme, Mother’s will often have more difficulties attending treatment sessions due to their commitments and responsibilities for their children.

Furthermore, despite Mothers often having a strong desire to access the addiction treatment they need, the lack of access to childcare services can also be a significant barrier.


A recent study published by Trinity College Dublin with Dr. Jo-Hanna Ivers, assistant professor in addiction, delved deeper into the subject of women and addiction. The aim of the study was to address a knowledge gap in women’s rationale for not attending addiction treatment.

The study identified the high levels of stigma women who use drugs receive in comparison to men. Acknowledging that there is also a stigma present for men who use drugs, but that the social and cultural expectations for women, particularly Mothers.

Other notable findings in the study found that childhood trauma was a common theme among the women, with their childhood marked by poverty, bereavement, and family adversity.

Below are some of the recommendations the study gave on what might be done differently in order to better support women accessing treatment:

  1. Develop an adequate trauma-informed response for women who use drugs
  2. Establish gender-transformative, integrated treatment and support services for women who use drugs
  3. Develop pathways for women to sustain recovery
  4. Expand pathways to education and training for women
  5. Support women to rebuild and sustain healthy family relationships


Tabor Group provides residential & community-based addiction treatment programmes to men and woman over 18 years of age, who are struggling with addiction to alcohol, drugs, and gambling. If you or a loved one are suffering from an addiction, get help today. We can help you recover in a healthy, friendly environment and beat your addiction. Do not hesitate to contact one of our counsellors today for information by calling +353 (21) 488 7710 for Cork or +353 (1) 639 2962 for Dublin, or alternatively you can email us at info@taborgroup.ie. We can help you.