Children who live in a home that regularly experiences parental substance or alcohol abuse can end up scared, lonely, and confused. Their family life is often chaotic and unpredictable, especially if both parents are abusing substances. On top of that, many family members do not know how to approach the subject of addiction with children. They may be scared that they will make the situation worse if the child knows what is going on. Many children living with addicts end up acting out or withdrawing from the behavior around them. In worse case scenarios, they may become addicts themselves.
If you are a parent who is struggling with a drug or alcohol addiction, you must get into rehab as soon as possible. You may be scared to make that commitment because of what your children will think. Your brain may be telling you that your kids will think you have failed them when they find out you are headed to rehab. If this is a concern of yours, please read on to learn more.
How to Talk With Your Children About Addiction
There is no “right way” to approach the subject of addiction with your children. However, addiction should be explained in an age-appropriate way when you do decide to have the conversation. A small toddler does not need to know the details as much as a teenager will. If your children are adults, you can be upfront with them from the start.
First, explain to them that addiction is now known to be a disease. Tell them that addiction is a sickness in the same way as any other sickness is, such as diabetes or heart problems. Your child should also know that they are not alone. Make sure they know that millions of families and children are struggling with addiction issues.
Children should also know that they are not the reason for your disease. Many kids blame themselves for their parent’s problems, which will set them up for mental issues later. Always talk to your children when things are calm in the home.
Explaining the Process
Your children will likely feel better about the situation if they know what will happen in the future. While you cannot promise sobriety, you can promise that you are planning to give it your all. Kids can handle the truth better than many parents think, so don’t worry about telling them the details of rehab.
Start off by explaining that you may or may not be going away for a short period of time. If you plan on participating in an inpatient rehab program, you could be gone for a few days to a month or more. If an inpatient rehab is not a viable option, consider an outpatient program that will work with your current schedule. Explain to your children where and when you will be attending rehab services.
Next, outline the treatment program you will be receiving. Explain what will happen if you need to go through detox. This will help them understand why you need to be admitted into rehab to become sober, especially if you are still actively using. You can then walk them through the general program of rehab facilities, such as the various therapy sessions and treatment options you will be given.
Remember, your children are not going to see you as a failure just because you are going to rehab. They will see you as a person who is committed to making a wonderful change in their life. They will be proud that you are taking the time to find your sobriety and work on being a better individual and parent. While your children may be upset that you have to enter rehab, especially younger ones, always keep in mind that you are making the best choice. For many, it is a matter of life and death.
Getting the Help You All Need
Rehab isn’t just for the addict. Children, spouses, and family members of an addict should also take advantage of therapy services. Some facilities will offer group therapy when the time is right, which allows the family members to come together to discuss the addiction. You should also consider outpatient therapy sessions for your children while you are maintaining your sobriety, especially if your addiction has caused family problems. Your therapist or counselor can help you find something local for you and your family.
When you are ready to take your first step into a lifetime of sober living, give us a call at 833-610-1174.