Substance Abuse: Mental Health + Motherhood


substance abuse

Des Moines Mom wants to create a safe space for ongoing conversations about mental health. That is why we created this series, Mental Health and Motherhood.

In this monthly series, we’re going to be talking about mental health for ourselves, for our kids, our spouses, and our families. We could talk about the importance of mental health for days. Some topics we want to dig into are anxiety and depression, bullying, postpartum depression, and therapy in general. 

Here is a conversation about substance abuse with mental health therapist and certified alcohol and drug counselor Sheila Russel, LISW, CADC, with Front Line Therapy, LLC.

mental health mondays

Mental Health and Substance Abuse

What is substance abuse? 

Substance use and addictive disorders include drugs, alcohol, and gambling. Additionally, people can have an unhealthy relationship with anything. There has been an evolution in the language that is used between addiction or disorder. It is referred to as a substance use disorder on a continuum of mild, moderate, and severe. Identifying the level of the disorder helps determine the best treatment. 

If a person is using or recovering from or spending a long time to acquire assets or ability to be able to get drug or alcohol of choice or to gamble. As a certified alcohol and drug counselor, I am looking at time or effort seeking drug or alcohol or money for gambling, how long they are spending using, and how long they are spending withdrawing or recovering or the intoxication effects. 

How has the pandemic impacted substance abuse? 

The American Psychological Association released a study done in February 2021 stating that there has been an increase in undesirable weight gains and increased drinking reported by Americans dealing with pandemic stress. There has been a particular spike for women and parents with children under the age of 18. 

What are signs that you may have a problem? 

We’re looking for changes in use and changes in tolerance. If alcohol or drug use is causing consequences in your life or impacting relationships, that’s a sign of a problem. If you’re spending more time drinking or drugging than involved in old hobbies, that’s another sign. If you’ve tried to cut back or stop using and weren’t successful, that’s also a sign of a problem. 

What should you do if you think you may need help or know someone who might?

If you or someone you love are struggling with a substance abuse disorder there are many resources available and many are online. Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) isn’t just for alcoholics, it also has groups for family members. Treatment and mental health therapy are also options to consider. 

Al-Anon Family Groups

Des Moines AA 

Narcotics Anonymous

Sheila Russell is an independently licensed social worker (LISW) and Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor (CADC). She is certified in Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR), an EMDR consultant in training, and a Yoga For First Responders (YFFR) ambassador. She specializes in working with first responders, military personnel, substance use and gambling disorders, domestic violence, and postpartum mood disorders.
Learn more about her services at
3737 Woodland Avenue Suite 620, West Des Moines


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