Drug and alcohol addiction impacts every aspect of your life. The effects of addiction can keep you from caring for yourself and managing your responsibilities. It can have a profound effect on your ability to care for others, as well.

Parents who struggle with addiction may not be physically or emotionally present in their children’s lives. They may put themselves and others at risk or jeopardize their family’s well-being as the addiction becomes the center of their life.

Seeking treatment can be the first step toward lifelong recovery. Addressing the physical, behavioral, and psychological aspects of addiction can help you repair relationships and return to the lifestyle you choose. It can make you a better parent, partner, and community member.

Talking to your children about addiction or going to rehab can be challenging. This guide will detail how to have these difficult conversations with children of all ages. You will learn:

  • How to talk to kids about addiction
  • Tips for talking to children about rehab
  • Age-appropriate ways of explaining addiction and recovery
  • How to find an addiction treatment center

Going to rehab is a life-affirming decision. Reach out to the First Step Behavioral Health specialists to learn more about talking about addiction or to explore our holistic treatment programs.

How to Tell Your Kids About Your Addiction

Living with an addicted parent can upend a child’s life. Instead of a safe, loving place, home can feel unpredictable, chaotic, or frightening. Parents with substance abuse may not be capable of meeting their children’s needs and may put kids at risk with their behaviors.

Subjects like drug and alcohol addiction, treatment, and recovery can be very complex and difficult for children to understand. Talking to your kids about your addiction is a good first step.

It’s likely your children have noticed changes in your behaviors, mood, or appearance. Even if you have never used drugs or alcohol in front of your child, they are probably aware that something is different or “not right.”

There are several things to keep in mind when talking to your child about addiction. Here are some tips to help you have a productive, loving conversation.

Be honest

Start by telling your child about your substance use disorder. Use age-appropriate language. For instance, if you have younger children, you could say, “I am sick,” or something similar. Older children may have more understanding of drug and alcohol use.

Tell your child that you need to get help for your alcohol or drug abuse. Give honest information, but do not tell your child more than they need to know. Give a little information and answer their questions honestly.

Ask open-ended questions

Open-ended questions can allow your child to express themselves. Listen to their answers.

Reassure them

Children often have a self-centered view of the world. This can cause children to assume they caused their parent’s addiction. Reassure your child that your substance use has nothing to do with them and that you love them. Tell them how you will make sure they are in good hands while you get the help you need.

Young children are more likely to blame themselves for a parent’s addiction. However, children of all ages may wonder if they contributed to their parent’s substance use.

Acknowledge their feelings

Older children may feel angry, hurt, or resentful of your substance use. This is age-appropriate. Acknowledge those feelings. Give your child permission to have them. Stay focused on what you will do to get help and your love for them.

Talking to your child about addiction can be challenging, but it is one of the most important things you can do to start the healing process. Ask for support during this time. Connect with a counselor, sober coach, or supportive family member to help you talk to kids about addiction and rehab.

Explaining Rehab to Children

Talking to your kids about going to rehab is crucial to helping them feel safe. Use simple terms for rehab. When talking to younger children, you might refer to rehab as “a special hospital” or something similar.

Older children may be able to understand more detailed descriptions of what will happen. You might tell them about the therapies you will receive, including:

  • Therapy
  • Medications
  • Support groups
  • Exercise, mindfulness, nutrition support, and other holistic therapies

You must also tell your children about how their life may be different while you are in rehab. Talk to children about:

  • Where they will stay, and who will care for them while you are away
  • Who will drop them off and pick them up from school
  • How they will get to after-school and weekend activities

Make a list or visual schedule of these changes so your child can look at them whenever they want to. Answer their questions and reassure them that you will stay in touch with them as much as possible while you are in rehab.

Children may feel comforted knowing where they will stay, how they will get to school, and other important changes affecting their daily lives.

Our Commitment to Family

At 1st Step Behavioral Health, our commitment to our clients extends beyond their recovery. We are passionate about helping their families heal from addiction and discover the best ways to support them.

Understanding that each family’s situation is unique, we offer personalized programs that cater to the specific dynamics and challenges faced by families dealing with addiction. Our team of experienced professionals provides ongoing support, guidance, and a safe space for families to participate in the recovery journey alongside their loved ones. With programs that incorporate family therapy, educational workshops, and long-term care, we ensure family members actively participate in the healing process.

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