If you have gone through addiction and addiction recovery, how should you educate your children about this process? This can be a tricky issue for parents who have gone through addiction treatment. After all, you have no desire to see your children go through what you went through in your life. How can you teach your children about drug abuse and addiction?
According to Parenting, "many addicted teens start using alcohol at age 9 or 10, then go to more potent drugs." It is important to talk to your children early to let them know that abuse of drugs or alcohol is dangerous. Transmit this information at an age-appropriate level, but remember that it is all right to talk about it, even if your child is young. According to Project Know, children should be aware of "the consequences that addiction can have on one’s physical and mental health, family, relationships, and other areas of functioning."
Older children who are curious about experimenting with alcohol and drugs can be terrifying to those who have moved through addiction recovery. Will educating your children about drug abuse make you sound like a hypocrite? Certainly, this is something that older children may bring up; you tried drugs, so why shouldn't they? However, if you talk with your children early and in a sensible way, you can become an excellent resource person and sounding board for your children as they learn more about themselves and test boundaries. Become the person you wish that you had there for you when you were a child.
If you discuss drug abuse and addiction in the context of your addiction, make sure that your children know that they are safe and that their relationship with you is safe as well. If they have felt hurt in the past when you have lost your temper due to addiction, you may need to go to therapy to address some of this hurt. Make your children feel like their relationship with you is safe and that they can control their own destiny; even though they are related to someone with an addiction, they do not need to become addicted themselves.
Providing strong, drug and alcohol-free support networks is key to helping children feel strong against addiction. Make sure that your children:
Make sure that your children know that they can turn to these support systems when they are having a hard time or if they make a wrong decision. If they try alcohol or drugs, even if you do not want them to experiment, they need to know that they have not lost your love.
If your children have witnessed events that have impacted them due to your addiction, or if they feel like they have had to make their own way because you were not able to be there for them, you need time and intentional space to rebuild a stronger relationship and healthy home life. Make sure that your children know that there is someone there to care for their needs and that they can create healthy life patterns and support systems that will help them be strong, healthy people themselves.
If your children have witnessed your addiction or the addiction of someone else in the family, you will need to be honest about this as you educate them about drug abuse and addiction. Very young children do not understand addiction, but they can understand that someone has been or currently is sick. Older children can understand that addiction involves wanting something very much, but that drugs and alcohol make that person sick. Tweens and teens do not need you to use yourself or others as a focus of a lecture of a cautionary tale, but they do need you to talk about their experience of the addiction and hear factual information about what has happened.
Are you reconnecting with friends and family in addiction recovery? Talk with Advanced Recovery Systems. We provide ongoing support to those in recovery so that you can be successful in addiction treatment and beyond. Contact us today to learn more.