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How to Listen & Talk to Kids About Addiction

Living in a home where there’s substance abuse is difficult, and it is even harder for children to comprehend the whole situation.

Oftentimes, they assign the blame to themselves, thinking they’re the ones who caused their parents to give in to their addiction.

With unpredictability and chaos now a part of their daily lives at home, children are likely to feel guilty and ashamed because of the current situation their family is in, and more often than not, they feel abandoned as a result of their parents’ emotional unavailability.

In a situation as delicate as this, it is parents’ obligation to openly talk to their kids about the addiction and tell them the truth.

While many parents walk a delicate line talking to their little ones about addiction, there are some general guidelines you can use to approach this complex topic.

Read on to learn what they are.

Keep Your Child’s Age in Mind

How you talk to your children about addiction depends on how old they are.

You don’t approach the topic the same way with a ten-year-old and a child in their teens, so consider your children’s age before you decide on the best way to tell them the unpleasant truth.

Pay attention to the language you use and try to make it as clear as possible.

If your children are young, it’s best to compare the addiction to the state of being sick.

However, if you’re a parent of a teenager, you can go into as many details as you think your kid is comfortable with.

If they’re interested in learning more about their family member’s addiction, be honest and talk to them openly.

Child with Hands Over Ears

Explain That Addiction Is a Disease

When approaching such a complex topic, the way you decide to deliver the truth needs to be well-thought-out.

Let your children know that addiction is a disease that can be cured, and that their parent is not a “bad” person, but that their addiction is a disease that causes them to act strange sometimes and do things that don’t really make much sense.

Whether they should go to a rehabilitation centre is a painful dilemma for both the person who uses drugs and their family, but oftentimes it’s the only way to deal with an addiction that is breaking their family apart.

With substance abuse problems on the rise in states such as Florida, many parents turn to Florida drug rehab to deal with this disease.

With effective recovery programs, rehab centers can help you successfully break away from drugs and ensure a happy, drug-free lifestyle.

Let Them Know It’s Not Their Fault

When talking to your kids about the addiction, it is of crucial importance that you let them know it is not their fault.

Constant yelling and arguing of parents under the influence of drugs may cause children to draw wrong conclusions and put the blame on themselves, even though they don’t have anything to do with their parent’s addiction.

They need to understand that they didn’t cause it and that they can’t stop it until the parent decides to deal with it on their own.

In addition, let them know that they’re not alone and that what they’re going through happens to other families as well.

Above all, find a way to show them that, even though the disease took over and that their parents are doing things they shouldn’t, all that doesn’t change the fact that they are still loved and that their parents are going to care about them no matter what.

Girl Sat with Head Down

Encourage Them To Speak About The Subject

Now that your children are aware of the situation and why their parents act the way they act sometimes, they should know that there is nothing they should be ashamed of.

Even though it’s something they’re not proud of, it’s a situation that will change after some time has passed, and until then, they shouldn’t be afraid to talk to other adults about the issues their family is facing.

Let your children know that they shouldn’t lie, cover up, or keep secrets about their parent’s addiction, and in case they’re feeling down, they should feel free to go to an adult they can trust and lighten their burden.

Sharing their problems with a teacher, counselor, or members of peer support groups can be helpful in combatting negative feelings, and will result in a feeling of being accepted and understood in the toughest of times.

Talking to your children about addiction is no easy task, and it’s a delicate matter that should be approached with care.

Use the tips above to explain the issue in a way that your children will understand and help them get through this tough period of their lives.