Making the decision to enter drug and alcohol treatment is life-changing. Often, it means stepping away from your life to focus on healing and recovery. You may know that residential treatment is the best thing for you, but how do you explain rehab to your children?
Perhaps your children are young and have no idea that you’re struggling with addiction. Maybe they are impressionable preteens who know something is wrong but not exactly what. Teenagers may understand why you need to do this but be worried about living without you for a while.
Here are a few strategies to help you have a meaningful conversation with your children, regardless of their ages. Just remember that each child may respond differently based on their age and what they are experiencing in everyday life.
Explaining Drug Addiction to a Child
- Tell them yourself. Whenever possible, ensure that your child learns about your addiction and rehab from you rather than someone else.
- Make it a private conversation Your children deserve your full attention for as long as it takes to explain to them your treatment process, to listen to their concerns, and to answer their questions. Schedule a formal “date” with your children to have this talk in a place they feel safe.
- Discuss what is happening with you. Keep it age appropriate. For younger children, you may wish to discuss the treatment as a way to get better from feeling sick. With older children, you can provide more detail. Be honest and open. Discuss the facts of what is happening and why. Treat them with respect by talking about addiction and how treatment will help.
- You don’t need to tell them everything. You do not have to tell your child what type of addiction you’re facing or how it started (although older children can certainly benefit from this information at some point, as it may help them be more aware of how easily addiction can develop). You also don’t have to talk about how bad it is, but you do need to make it clear that you need this treatment to improve your health and well-being.
- Discuss what treatment involves. Explain that you’ll be working with doctors, therapists, and others like you who are going through the same thing at rehab. Talk about drug addiction as a disease that requires careful and professional care. Also, tell them that you are doing this so you can be the best version of yourself and be a better parent to them.
- Assure them of your safety. Be sure they know you’ll be safe. Let them know that you are confident that this is the right decision for you to make. Your positivity will impact their feelings and thoughts.
Answer your child’s questions as openly as you can. Let them lead the conversation but try to keep things calm. Let them know that after addiction recovery, you hope to have more energy, more clarity, and more ability to be there for them.
Focus on What’s Going to Happen to Them
While your children will want the best for you, they will likely also be scared. How will this impact their day-to-day needs? Provide some information about this, including:
- Where they will live if they have to leave their home
- Who will take over what you do for them
- How things like going to school, practice, playdates, and other things may change
- How they will be able to talk to you–that you can talk on the phone together and that they may be able to visit you
- Reassurance that you are coming back
Creating the Best Outcome
Finally, be open with the people taking care of your child while you are gone to rehab. Explain how they should deal with questions your children have, such as when you’ll be back or when they can call you. Make clear what the children already know and what you do not want them to know yet.
Don’t shy away from including your children in family therapy. Your addiction has likely created some trauma within their lives. Talking about it and working through it not only helps your child, but it can also help you.
Let our team guide you through this process. Learn about drug addiction treatment in Lubbock, Texas, today. We’re happy to answer all of your questions so you can have an honest conversation with your child.