When there is addiction present in a household, it can cause children to become confused, hurt, and even feel shame. Experiencing the unpredictability that comes with a parent or sibling being addicted to drugs during childhood can cause abandonment and emotional issues later on during adolescence or young adulthood. You may be wondering how you can help a child make sense of addiction and explain it in a way that doesn’t hurt them. Our drug and alcohol treatment center in Chicago explains how to talk to kids about addiction and how to help them heal.
It’s important to explain to children that addiction is a disease, and that their loved ones are not bad people because they abuse drugs or alcohol. A parent under the influence can say harsh and hurtful things they don’t mean, and children may not know how to make sense of it all.
Because children may not fully understand addiction and why it’s present in the first place, they may blame themselves. Children can feel guilt if their parents are under the influence when they are around, and it has to be explained to them that the addiction is simply not their fault. They didn’t do anything wrong to cause this disease.
Children may feel shameful about opening up to outsiders about the addiction. Parents may tell them to not speak about the substance abuse to anyone; however, it’s so important for kids to express their feelings and emotions. They may feel pressured to lie for their parents – and the more they keep bottled up inside, the worse they are. Children can talk to other family members and hopefully get the opportunity to speak with someone they trust such as a mentor or teacher.