When a parent develops an alcohol or drug addiction, kids often bear much of the fallout. They feel the stress of the situation much more deeply than anyone can imagine, and as such, individuals in addiction recovery need to talk openly and honestly with the children in order to help them heal as well.
The following represent a series of tips for talking to your kids about your addiction and your recovery.
- Make sure they know that it wasn’t their fault. Children tend to blame themselves for parental crises, so it is important to make it very clear to them that they had nothing to do with your drug addiction or alcoholism.
- Help them to not feel ashamed. Your kids may feel embarrassed or ashamed because of your addiction. Help them see that addiction is an illness and not a personal choice that someone makes.
- Tell them it is OK to feel angry. Your children may feel a profound sense of disappointment in you because of your addiction. This can quickly lead to feelings of anger and frustration over the matter. Take the time to explain to them that the anger they are feeling is completely natural and that they should feel free to talk openly about it. Suggest a counseling program for the children of addicted parents such as Alateen.
- Ask them to help out. Addiction recovery is going to take a great deal of your time and energy. That can put a tremendous amount of pressure on your spouse or significant other. Ask your children to help pitch in around the house while you are in detox or attending counseling. This will help keep your family healthy and make the kids a more active part of your recovery process.
- Talk to your kids about drugs and alcohol. Finally, take as much time as you can to discuss the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse to your children. Although you may not have set the best example for them in the past – you still have the opportunity to improve their lives as they get older.
If you have a family member who is fighting an addiction, contact a treatment program in your area and learn how they can help restore their health and rebuild the bonds between children, parents, and siblings.