The decision to get treatment for drug or alcohol addiction is never easy. Many people know that addiction is messing up their lives but they’re still reluctant to get help. Many fear the stigma of being labeled an addict. This may be even harder if you have kids. It’s not easy to admit you need help, nor is it easy to be separated from your family for weeks or months. If you’ve decided to enter treatment but aren’t sure how to tell your kids, here are some suggestions.
Kids often don’t know how to react to situations, so they look to you for cues. If you’re calm, they’ll be calm. If you approach the conversation with the attitude that entering treatment is an opportunity to make life better for your whole family, and that you’ll be back before they know it, it should be relatively easy. If you’re visibly conflicted, scared, and feel like you’ll never see your kids again, they will pick up on that and be scared. If you focus on the positive aspects of treatment and review your reasons for going before you talk to your kids, you will likely be in a better frame of mind.
Explain where you’re going
There’s no need to be mysterious. Kids usually have some idea of what’s going on, probably more than you think. Kids also know when you’re lying to them. Tell them where you’re going, why you’re going, and how long you expect to be gone. Use age appropriate language. Younger children might not understand much besides your going away. Older children will likely have more questions. Just try to be honest and help them understand that addiction is an illness and you need treatment to get better.
Get help from the other parent
It’s always good to have support, especially in this situation. Kids often feel insecure when a parent goes away. Having the other parent there will reassure them that they will be taken care of and everything will be fine. Talk about it before talking to your kids, and be together when you talk to them, if possible. Even if you’re split up, a united front on this matter is better. Keep in mind that it’s for the good of the kids.
Answer questions honestly
You may feel awkward answering your kids’ questions about your addiction and treatment. Keep in mind that they have a right to know. Your recovery affects them more than anyone else. This situation is probably new to them. They may or may not even be aware that your addictive behavior is abnormal. Honestly answering their questions can be an opportunity to put your relationship on a solid foundation. Remember the important thing is that they feel safe and that they know you’ll come back better than when you left.
If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction or mental illness, we can help. Recovery Ways is a premier drug and alcohol addiction treatment facility located in Salt Lake City, Utah. We have the resources to effectively treat a dual diagnosis. Our mission is to provide the most cost-effective, accessible substance abuse treatment to as many people as possible. Request information online or call us today at 1-888-986-7848.