Some say that being a parent is magic. Others say it was the biggest challenge of their life, and one they were not ready for at all.
Either way, one thing is certain: having a child will change you and your lifestyle. One change that should be automatic is giving up unhealthy habits that can harm you and, at least potentially, your child.
A child’s education begins with observing the parent’s actions. Everything is important: what words a parent chooses to use, how they dress, how they socialize with others around them, personal hygiene and, of course, unhealthy behaviors such as smoking or alcohol consumption.
A responsible parent who wants only the best for their child will pay more attention to their own unhealthy habits. If you are accustomed to consuming a lot of alcohol, for example, you should moderate or stop this behavior before you become a parent.
Unhealthy Habits That Will Impact Your Little One’s Life
Before Becoming a Parent
The desire to have a healthy baby is a strong motivation to finally give up unhealthy habits such as smoking, alcohol and drug use. Doctors and family need to provide support to parents in these situations. For the health of the pregnancy and the future life of the child as well, parents should give up these habits.
Giving up these habits may be necessary even to become a parent. Alcohol can cause problems with fertility in both men and women. Men who drink to excess will have lower sperm counts and sperm quality—alcohol is toxic to sperm—while women who drink may have trouble even becoming pregnant.
Getting sober is a crucial step in becoming a parent. This often leads to questions of how much does alcohol rehab cost and how effective it is.
That depends upon how much your insurance or finances will cover, what type of rehab you receive, whether it is inpatient or outpatient, and for how long. Going cold turkey on your own is not advised because, in some severe cases, alcohol withdrawal can have medical complications and even be fatal.
Alcohol rehabilitation often involves medically supervised detox, cognitive-behavioral therapy, group therapy, peer support, and aftercare.
Many rehab centers offer holistic approaches. This means treating the whole person, rather than just the addiction, with nutrition, meditation, exercise, fresh air, quiet and scenic landscapes, and specialized therapies (art, horse).
Because the patient-doctor ratio is low, a unique, personalized treatment plan can be designed here by the best experts. This might cost you more, but it may also give you a greater chance of achieving long-term abstinence. All of these can contribute to a successful recovery process.
Why Parents Should Give Up Bad Habits
You should have a strong, specific reason for wanting to kick a bad habit. If becoming a parent and having responsibility for a new life is not one, then what is?
- Health. Deep inside we know that giving up alcohol (or drugs) is good for our health, but a habit will only change due to a specific and personal reason.
- Relationships. You are going to be a parent, and that is a strong reason now, but your drinking is probably affecting other relationships, too: with your spouse or partner, friends, family, co-workers, and neighbors.
- Money. Addictions and other habits are bad for the wallet, too. Unless you stop to add it up, you may not realize how much money you spend on alcohol. As a parent-to-be, you cannot afford to waste that money.
Becoming a Successful Parent
Habits need practice and repetition to form, and the same rule applies to giving them up. Removing alcohol from the system is important but only the first part of the recovery process.
Detoxification is the gradual or abrupt stopping of alcohol consumption, sometimes accompanied by medication to counteract the effects of withdrawal. But there are also many other things you can do to help you along the way, including:
- Keep your stress levels under control. Having a baby is often stressful, and so is giving up alcohol or drugs. Specialists say that we are prone to reacting more strongly the more stressed we are. The solution? Try to sleep more, exercise regularly and opt for stress-reducing techniques such as meditation. All of this will improve your brain’s health.
- Know your triggers. Habits are composed of three main parts: cue, routine, and reward. Cues are the context in which you tend to engage in a behavior: situations, people, and locations. You are more prone to yield to a bad habit if you have done so before. People who want to quit alcohol should avoid going to bars or places where they are aware that they will find alcohol.
- Make new, healthy habits. If you are told to not to think about something, you will inevitably think about it. You are far more likely not to think about it if you are instead told to think about some other specific thing. So, instead of thinking about not drinking or using drugs, think about doing something else.
- Set small goals every day. A bad habit will be kicked only step by step, with daily effort. It is a cliche that we fight addiction one day at a time, or that the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, but it is true. To stop drinking for the rest of your life is a more challenging prospect than to stop drinking today. Commit to a manageable abstinence or health goal.
- Learn from past mistakes. Examining how we responded to the situation in the past and determining what we can do to avoid alcohol consumption in the future, it might be exactly what we need to destroy that habit. It’s always easier to react to a situation for which you’ve already planned rather than coming up with a new plan later. In addition, thinking about how you approach the problem helps you develop the idea that you can do something about it, which is vital.
Be patient. You don’t break a habit or become a parent overnight. The process of becoming a parent takes time and has many implications. It will give you the
- opportunity to learn many new things and have a completely different routine. So does learning or unlearning a habit. Various studies suggest, on average, it takes about 66 days to learn a new habit, and some may take more than eight months. It is essential that you keep your motivation and be ready to spend time—even several years—trying to kick a bad habit, such as excessive alcohol consumption.
Abstinence is not easy and requires dedication. Even if you replace an unhealthy habit with a good one, sometimes the original will have a stronger reward than its substitute.
There are no simple solutions or quick remedies. Abstinence is a challenge.
The human body, however, has an impressive ability to heal and abstinence offers the ideal conditions for doing so. An abstinence-based rehab program equips patients with the tools and knowledge they need to ensure a full life without alcohol or drugs.
Take these steps today if you are planning to become a parent or even if you are recently a new parent. They will make a great change in both yours and your little one’s life.
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