Talking to Your Kids About Addiction
Addiction can affect every aspect of your life and your family’s life. When there are children in your life, you will need to talk to them about substance use if another child or teen in the family is struggling with that. You may be dreading this conversation already. Maybe you have played it out in your head over and over, or perhaps you have memorized a million different ways to talk to your family about your child’s substance use, but none seem perfect to you. One of the most important things your child will learn in treatment is: they don’t have to be perfect. And neither do you. The exact words are less important than the conversation itself. The kids in your life love you, and they care about you. You matter to them. They need to know you care. Reaching out to them and talking to them shows you care about their sibling, yourself, and the family.
How old are the kids in your life?
The age and maturity level of the kids play factors in what you say and what you discuss with them. Regardless of their age, they need to hear you talk about substance use and how it affects them. The older they are, the more details you can share. The purpose of this discussion is not to tell them all the difficult details, but rather to help them feel safe and comfortable as their sibling leaves for treatment.
When talking to children about addiction, the most important element is honesty! This does not necessarily mean full disclosure. However, what you choose to say to your family must be honest. In all likelihood, the kids in your life already know that substance use has made its way into their lives. There is a strong possibility that no matter what you say, they will be relieved that you are talking to them and acknowledging the “elephant” in the family room and respecting their feelings. Be as vague or as specific as you feel comfortable, but be honest.
Things to keep in mind:
- Acknowledge the situation and let them know you are handling things.
- Give them time to process and let them tell you how they feel.
- Let them ask questions.
- Let them talk.
- Ask them questions and pay close attention to their answers.
All of these tips will help ensure a successful conversation about substance use and addiction. Giving children a chance to react and share their feelings will go a long way toward their acceptance of the road ahead as your family pursues recovery.
When an addicted teen or adolescent recovers, everyone recovers. Call Stonewater Adolescent Recovery Center today for information on our residential programming for boys, our family programs for recovery, and our life cleansing approach to recovery: 662-598-4214