Drug addiction is a serious issue that often affects children’s relationships as well as their health. Talking to children about addiction and addiction treatment is difficult, but it is necessary. Although it may not seem necessary to talk to young kids about drugs and substance abuse, you can talk with children as young as preschool. The conversation may seem uncomfortable and you may wonder if kids will be able to understand the discussion; however, by addressing the topic as early as possible, it will help them to understand the situation better should a parent or other family member have an addiction and it may help to prevent the risk of the child have an addiction problem. Here are a few tips on how to talk to kids about addiction, addiction treatments and addiction recovery.
Take Age Into Consideration
Although it’s important to be open and honest about addiction with kids, especially if the topic is related to a parent, it is just as important to take their age into consideration. The child’s age has a significant impact on how much information you share. For instance, the terms you use will be different for a five-year-old than what you use for a pre-teen or teenager, so be sure to use terms that are age-appropriate. The most important thing is to start this conversation as early as possible before kids are exposed to substance use in peer groups.
As a parent discussing addiction, it’s important that you educate yourself on addiction, addiction treatments, and addiction recovery; this will allow you to have better insight on how to explain it. Keep in mind that the older kids are, the more details you can share, just be careful to not be too confusing. If you aren’t sure how to address the topic, consider talking with a friend, family member or professional for advice on how to approach the topic.
Honesty is Key
One of the most difficult things to do when discussing substance use with kids is, to be honest. However, it is essential that you are as open and honest as possible when talking with your kids about addiction, this is especially important if you have recently gone through addiction treatment and are now in addiction recovery. Being honest with your kids about the reasons for your treatment and what you are doing for recovery will not only help them to be more aware of addiction but being honest also helps to develop trust.
Children depend on credibility, and they can tell if you aren’t being honest with them. If your child asks if you have ever done drugs or alcohol, you don’t need to go into detail about what’s happened, but it is important to be honest about using. It can be a way to explain why you understand about addiction and that you don’t want them to make the same mistakes. If your children are struggling with how to deal with your addiction, it may be beneficial for them to attend meetings, such as Al-anon, to help with their feelings.
Encourage the Seven C’s
It’s extremely difficult for children of any age to understand why someone they care about has an addiction problem. The good news is kids are much more understanding than they are given credit for. It’s common for children to feel guilty, helpless and to have poor self-worth when it comes to having a loved one with a substance abuse problem, but the seven C’s help them to understand that it isn’t their fault, they aren’t able to fix the problem and the importance of self-care. NACoA (National Association for children of Addiction) encourages children to know and understand the seven C’s, which include:
- I didn’t cause it
- I can’t cure it
- I can’t control it
- I can care for myself
- By communicating my feelings
- Making healthy choices
- Celebrating myself
Remember to be honest with kids, be supportive, encourage communication and offer coping skills. Encourage children to understand that addiction is a disease, and they can’t cure it, they cannot control other’s substance use, they are not alone, and they can talk openly about the issue.
It is extremely important to end the conversation with encouraging, hopeful messages. This may be a difficult conversation for children to process, so it’s important to explain that you are taking all the steps necessary for addiction recovery. Be comforting, reassuring and positive, so that they know there is hope.
If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction treatment, do NOT hesitate to talk to us. Contact us here to speak to an addiction treatment professional. 90210 Recovery’s mission is to make sure you move on from addiction and on to a bigger and better life.