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February 18, 2019
What To Tell Your Kids When You Go To Rehab
Addiction Treatment

What To Tell Your Kids When You Go To Rehab

A parent’s substance use disorder can have an enormous impact on children – and vice versa. Parents may let fear of how their children will take the news prevent them from seeking professional help for addictions. Knowing how to prepare your kids can help you go to rehab with peace of mind, and let you focus on recovery.

Have An Open Conversation About Addiction

Don’t hide what you’re really going through from your children. Starting an open, honest conversation about your substance use disorder can normalize important issues relating to addiction and mental health. If your children are too young to understand, give at least a basic explanation of what’s going on. Being as honest and upfront as possible about what’s going on can help prevent issues in the future. It may even help your children avoid addictions.

Hiding your addiction from your children may feel like the best way to protect them, but in reality your kids probably already know something is wrong. It can come as a relief to them to know what’s happening, and to know that you are getting professional help. Keeping them in the dark, on the other hand, could lead to problems such as your kids blaming themselves for your absence. Openly discussing addiction can help your children learn that talking about their problems is the best way to handle them.

You don’t have to go into unnecessary detail about what you’ve been going through. It can be helpful for you and your family, however, if you stick to the truth as much as possible. Explain to your kids that addiction is a condition like other diseases, and that you need professional care to treat the problem, like going to the doctor for a physical condition. Have this conversation when you have time to sit one-on-one with your children in a safe, calm environment.

Emphasize This Is Not Your Child’s Fault

Children of parents with addictions often grow up blaming themselves for their parents’ problems or feeling responsible for substance use disorders. Children may feel like they could have done more to help struggling parents, or that they were somehow the cause of the problem. During your absence, children may think they did something to drive you away. Emphasize in conversation that your children did not cause your addiction; it is a complex disease, and no one is to blame. Encourage your children to express how they’re feeling openly.

Educate Yourself On The Issue

Before you open the floor to a conversation about your addiction and plans for rehab, educate yourself on the nature of a drug or alcohol addiction. You should be able to answer your children’s questions about the problem and the solution. Have the knowledge to explain addiction as a medical illness, and to break down why you cannot overcome the illness alone. The more you know about your addiction, the better you will be able to help a child understand it.

Explain That You Will Be Back

No matter what age your children are, make sure they know you are not suffering from a deadly illness, and that you will be returning home. If you have a specific return date, write it on a calendar so your children know when you’ll be back. Make sure your kids know what you have is treatable, and that once you seek treatment you will be on the path to recovery. Explain that you may not be able to call every day depending on the rules of the treatment center, but that you will be in touch as often as possible. Let them know that rehab is only temporary.

Manage Your Emotions

Don’t have the rehabilitation talk with your kids until you can control your emotions. Seeing you scared, crying, or upset can frighten your kids and make them think you are going someplace bad or dangerous. It’s normal to get emotional while discussing your addiction with your children but do your best to keep your emotions in check for your children’s sake. If you need someone with you for emotional support, do so. If you feel you cannot keep it together, take a break and return to the conversation later. Make sure your children know they can have intense emotions about it, and that you will listen to them if they need to talk about it.

Plan For Their Wellbeing While You’re Away

Once you’ve had the talk with your children and they know you will be going away, prepare them for life without you for a while. This will include finding them a safe place to live, with people you trust. Choose family members your children know and are comfortable staying with, if possible. Otherwise, find friends you can trust to take excellent care of your kids. If you are a single parent with no one who can watch your kids, don’t worry. You can still seek treatment. Many treatment centers allow you to bring your children with you to stay in rehab. Do your research to find a rehab that permits you to bring your kids.

Minimize The Impact To Their Lives

Do what you can to minimize the impact your admission into a treatment facility will have on your kids. Try to keep your children in the same school district, sticking to a normal school schedule. Arrange pick-ups and drop-offs with family members, if necessary. Let whomever they are staying with know about after-school activities and interests. You may need to meet with your children’s teachers or principals to let them know what’s going on. Minimizing the changes to your children’s life during this time can help them stay emotionally stable while you’re away.

Get Better For Your Kids

Don’t worry about how your children will handle you going to rehabilitation. Worry about what might happen to them if you don’t seek treatment for an addiction. Battling addiction to drugs or alcohol with children involved can lead to serious consequences, such as them seeing you incapacitated or driving them around while under the influence. You may risk custody of your kids, or unintentionally put them in harm’s way. You aren’t protecting your children by resisting treatment. You must take care of yourself before you can take care of them. Do what’s best for you and your family. Attend treatment and rehabilitation with help from professionals.

Mike Loverde

Mike Loverde is a Certified Intervention Professional with more than 10 years of experience, and he is the founder and president of Intervention Helpline. He believes in taking a family-first approach to every intervention, and he created Intervention Helpline with the primary purpose of saving each family’s loved one before it is too late.

Furthermore, he is the primary writer for the Intervention Helpline Blog. He is always eager to share his insight and expertise on interventions, addiction treatment programs, rehab insurance coverage, relapse prevention and many other related topics.

Read the latest blog articles from the desk of Mike Loverde here, and don’t hesitate to contact if you have any questions or need intervention help now.

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