When you suffer from an addiction disorder, you face a series of challenges. Not only do you need to take the steps necessary to face your issues and get on the road to recovery, but you also need to learn how to relate to family and friends on a new level.
This is particularly the case if you have children, whether you have them before or after entering recovery. At some point, you will want to have a conversation with them about your past addiction issues.
Speaking to Your Children About Your Addiction
If you have been struggling with alcoholism or drug addiction with children in the home, there is a good chance they know something is happening. It is an unfortunate fact that many children in addicted homes learn to fend for themselves and see a certain level of disorganization or even chaos as a way of life. Children are more perceptive than you may think, and they are certainly going to notice if mom or dad disappears for an extended period to “get well.”
While you might be worried about having a conversation with your children concerning your addiction, you should not be. Children want what is best for their parents and desire a safe and structured atmosphere, despite some initial pushback that you might encounter after getting sober. No parent is perfect, and the sooner you have this conversation with your child, the faster you can get back to the business of coming together as a family.
Explaining Addiction and Recovery to Your Children
There is no right or wrong time to begin speaking to your kids about addiction, but the conversations should be age-specific. Your choice of language and the detail you provide will depend on the age and maturity of the child. There is no reason why you cannot speak to a child of any age about your drug addiction, however. Here are a few key points that you should cover.
- Be honest about the problem. Know as much about addiction as possible so that you can explain it in age-appropriate terms and answer questions as they arise.
- Acknowledge the impact that addiction had on your life and your relationship with your children. Ask children open-ended questions about how they are doing and feeling.
- Emphasize that nothing that has transpired is their fault. They did not cause an addiction to happen, make it worse, or prevent recovery.
- Give them perspective by letting them know they are not alone, as many parents and families struggle with addiction issues.
- Invite dialogue by letting children know that you are always open to answering questions or talking about issues in the future.
- Depending on their age, let them know the risks. Studies show that 17.2 percent of 8th graders and one-third of 10th graders are already using illicit drugs.
- Discuss the concept of anonymity if you want to keep your addiction issues private.
If You or a Loved One Are Struggling With Addiction
Before you explain drug addiction to your children, it is a good idea to have a firm foundation in recovery. If you or any of your loved ones are struggling with addiction, caring and compassionate personalized rehabilitation services are available through The Recovery Village. Contact us today to learn about how our addiction treatment program can help you build a strong recovery foundation so that you can have that important conversation with your children.
The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.