Addiction is an increasingly common problem in the U.S. It can make an addict feel powerless. However, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, addiction can be managed when you seek help and are committed to your recovery. Treatment programs can help you get clean and stay that way.
Getting help for your addiction can be the best thing you’ve ever done for yourself and your family. If you have children, you will need to explain the situation and how you are getting help for the problem. Consider these strategies to have a good and meaningful conversation about the treatment program and your recovery.
Start by Asking Open-Ended Questions
Many parents are surprised to find that their kids know a lot more about tough topics than they realize. If you are suffering with an addiction, your children might know more about the situation than you’d like. However, that may help you start the discussion about rehab. Start by asking a few simple open-ended questions that are related to the topic of addiction.
Writing questions and topics down before the conversation can help you remember everything you want to ask in the heat of the moment. Consider these examples of prompts and open-ended questions before jotting down your own:
- Tell me what you think addiction is.
- Please tell me about a time when my addiction upset or hurt you. (You can follow that up by explaining how you don’t want to ever repeat that, which is why you are going to be in rehab.)
- What problems have you had because of the drinking (or doing drugs)?
- Can you help me understand your anger a little better?
- What do you wish you could have said in the past situation?
- Can you tell me what you know about the topic of addiction?
- How do you think someone in my situation should handle things?
- Please tell me how this is making you feel.
- What can I do to make this easier for you?
Asking your kids questions like these can help foster a productive, compassionate conversation. By giving your children a chance to vent and explain how they feel about the situation, you can help them feel ready to listen and understand your need for treatment. Of course, the questions you ultimately choose will depend on the age and maturity of the children.
If you are intimidated by the idea of handling this conversation alone, you may enlist the help of a spouse and other loved ones. You may also opt to discuss your treatment during a family therapy session.
Be Prepared to Answer Questions
When you talk to your children about your decision to commit to a treatment program, they are likely to have some questions for you. Very young children may not be able to fully understand the situation, and older kids may understand and want to know a lot of details. Acknowledge their curiosity, and keep your explanations simple and age-appropriate.
Decide how much you want to share with your kids before the conversation so you won’t feel put on the spot. You may want to look up the answers to some questions you can anticipate. For example, young children may simply ask you why you can’t just stop drinking or taking drugs. Prepare how you want to respond to such a complicated question.
You can find information on websites like the National Institute of Drug Abuse that can help you back up your reasons with scientific findings and statistical facts. If your children ask questions that you can’t answer, it’s okay to say that you don’t have all the answers. If the answer is something you can look up, suggest that the two of you find the answer together.
Be Clear and Open About Changes That May Happen
Unless your children are very small, it’s usually best to be honest about how treatment will impact their lives. Depending on your situation, they may need to change their schedule, or you may not be able to attend all their activities. Reassure them that the changes are for a positive reason.
Along with the changes, offer a special way to show that you’re thinking of them. For example, you may keep a diary specifically for your children. Write special things for your kids each day, and then give them the diary later in their lives. It can show them how they inspired you to kick your addiction to the curb.
Talk About How Wonderful the Future Can Be
Children need to understand that things will change for the better when you are no longer drinking or taking drugs. Talk about all the positive changes that you are committed to making once you complete your treatment program. You may also make fun plans to celebrate the completion of a course of treatment.
Enlist your spouse’s help in inspiring optimism in your children. They can keep reminding your kids of the good things to come because you are in the treatment program. You may even make a list of all the good things that will happen.
Finally, reach out to our caring, compassionate staff at Pacific Ridge today. When you call, we offer confidential assistance and help you determine what treatment for chemical dependency is right for you. A beautiful, full, and happy life in recovery is possible. With the right help, you will be empowered to enjoy your best life without drugs or alcohol.