You may have spent some time in a Hawaii inpatient drug rehab center, attended 12-Step meetings, and worked on your recovery in other ways. However, your children know that something is different regarding your routine and behavior. Knowing how to talk to your children about your sobriety is the key to building a stronger connection with them.

Don’t Avoid the Topic

If you hide from your children that you are in addiction recovery, this will not stop them from wondering. They can sense when something is wrong or different. You probably told your share of lies when you were under the influence. This is the time to be closer to your kids than before. Talk about addiction the same way you would about any other disease. Explain what addiction does to you and what you are doing to feel better. 

It does not matter how old your children are. Even if they do not understand the full scale of addiction, they understand what it is like to be sick and that all forms of sickness require treatment. Knowing you feel better with each treatment method you participate in will bring them comfort. 

How to talk to kids about drugs and Alcohol
How and When to Talk to Your Kids About Drugs and Alcohol

Talking to your kids about drugs and alcohol while they are young can decrease their likelihood of drug abuse in their teen years.

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Practice Communication

Communication is key to having an honest relationship with your children. Let your children ask you as many questions as they want to understand better what you are going through. You do not need to share any disturbing or grim details with your kids that will scare them. You can simplify situations by saying things like, “I lied to a lot of people and was very sneaky about where I was going.” Your addiction made it hard for your child to trust you; now is the time to let your child know that the lies end today and that it’s a new day for the family in terms of honesty. 

Validate Your Child’s Feelings

While it is important to talk about your addiction, you also need to let your child know that you understand what they have gone through during this intense time. Let your children know you see the pain they have gone through. Acknowledge that you were in a bad place where your needs came first instead of your children’s needs. Offer your children a sincere apology and let them know that you will learn to be a better parent through treatment. 

Change Your Language

Remember that you are still talking to your kids. Teenagers understand what drugs are, and they may have learned about addiction in school. With younger children, they may be too young to know what addiction and drug use are. That does not mean you have to hide anything from them. 

For example, if your child does not understand what a drug is, say that a drug is dangerous, making you want more of it even though you want to stop and that they can make you do bad things to get more. Just like when you tell your child you are checking into a center for alcohol and drug treatment, simply say you are going to a place that will help you feel better.

Messages for Your Child to Take Away

By the end of the conversation, your children may have a lot of conflicting thoughts about what they hear about sobriety. They could think that your drug or alcohol use was a choice or that they are to blame. As a parent, your children are supposed to look up to you. You need to tell your child that addiction is never something anyone wants to choose. You never chose to hurt your children through your actions. You should also let your children know your addiction is not their fault. Let your kids know they have nothing to feel guilty about.

Identifying Effective Treatment: What to Look For
Identifying Effective Treatment: What to Look For

Knowing the signs of effective addiction treatment can continue to inform the most personalized practices.

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Talk About What Happens Next

Once you are finished talking to your children about your recovery, let them know how long you will be gone. If you have to be gone for certain parts of the day to attend support groups or therapy, clue your kids in on that. Let your children know that on the days you will be out, there will always be someone around to take care of them, whether it is a spouse, relative, or close friend. Remind your kids that while this will be a significant change for the whole family, the period apart will bring all of you closer together in time. Never be afraid to speak to your children about bettering yourself through recovery, as they can be the motivation you need to get better.

Family Therapy

If your children are still confused about your journey to recovery, consider family therapy. Hawaii Island Recovery offers family therapy that will encourage every family member to engage in a dialogue with each other. You and your family can heal together with honesty, support, and love. 

As you are about to enter rehab, you may look at your kids and ask yourself if they should know what is going on with you. You may think they are too young to understand what drugs are. However, your kids know there is something wrong and are entitled to an explanation, even if it means you do not share every detail. Having an open dialogue with your children about your recovery process will allow them to trust you and for you all to become a happier family. At Hawaii Island Recovery, one of the leading rehab centers in Hawaii, we offer drug treatment and family therapy services to heal every member of the family. Located in Kailua, Hawaii, our treatment centers can provide you with individual and group therapy, holistic services, family treatment, and more. Call Hawaii Island Recovery today at (866) 390-5070 to learn more about our services.