How to Tell Your Child You Need to Get Help for Addiction

How to Tell Your Child You Need to Get Help for Addiction, Helping Your Child with Substance Abuse,

Making the decision to enter into drug and alcohol treatment is one of the bravest steps on the road to recovery. One reason many people don’t take that step is because they worry about who will care for their children, what their children may think of them for needing help, or how they will talk to their kids about what’s about to happen. How do you tell your child you are going away for drug and alcohol treatment?

Be Open About Speaking to Your Kids About Addiction

Being open and honest with your child is a critical step in talking about your addiction, and it  creates a foundation for open conversations throughout their life. In a study released by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, it was found that, from 2015 to 2019, 21 million children under the age of 18 lived with a parent who misused substances. During that same period, 2 million children were living with a parent who had a substance use disorder.

Recognize that what you are facing right now is a disease, and, like any other type of disease, it requires professional treatment. As you consider what to say, remember that honesty tends to be the right path for most children, even those who are young.

Recognize the Foundation You Are Setting

When you speak to your family member about addiction, no matter the age, you are creating a very powerful statement. You are telling them what you need, why you need it, and how taking care of your needs might affect them. You are also allowing your child to offer their input. They might react with anger and fear. They may have many questions about what is going to happen to them.

If you do not tell them what is happening or try to shelter your child from the truth, they may find it difficult to speak to you about what they are feeling, thinking, and afraid of, and that is far worse than a few minutes of your child being angry or confused.

Over time, children who don’t feel they can speak up and say something to their parents are likely to downplay what’s occurring and may begin to internalize their emotions. This can put them at risk for addictive behaviors at some time in the future.

Consider These Tips for Speaking to Your Child About Addiction

How do you do it? What are you going to say? You may have a lot of thoughts racing through your mind right now, but consider the tips below: 

Be honest and age appropriate

Provide enough information about what is occurring based on the age of your child. For a young child, you may have to explain that you have to go away for a few days so that you can get some help from a doctor. For a teen, explain more in-depth what addiction is, what dependency is, and why you need help. Provide them with the level of information they need.

Reassure them 

There are several key statements you need to make when speaking to a child of any age about your addiction:

  • I did not cause this to happen to me.
  • I cannot cure this or treat it on my own.
  • I cannot control it.
  • I need to get care from a professional for help.
  • I want to make healthy choices.

Be sure to answer your child’s questions and, as you talk to them about these experiences, also reassure them that they did not cause your addiction. 

Explain what happens to them

Children of all ages need to understand what is going to happen to them. For example, if you need to go to a residential treatment center for several weeks, explain the following:

  • Where you are going
  • Who is going to take care of the child
  • That they will continue to go to school or stick to their routine
  • You will talk to them and even video chat with them during that time
  • You will be back
  • They may be able to participate in family therapy
  • You are going to the best drug treatment center so you can come back to them

Take the steps you need to get healthy. Practicing self-care and showing your children that you want the best outcome for them teaches them that they’re allowed to practice self-care, too. They’ll learn that if they ever face a similar problem, they can get the care they need. 

Let The Ranch at Dove Tree Provide You with the Support You Need

At The Ranch at Dove Tree in Lubbock, Texas, we work with individuals and families to provide them with the tools and strategies they need to recover from addiction. You can learn more about how we can help you when you call us or fill out our contact form online.