If you have children, they are probably your prime motivation to seek help for your substance abuse. You want them to grow up knowing their mom is there to support them, and your goal is to serve as a role model.
Many parents feel as if they need to shield their kids from the truth that they have an addiction and are going to get help, but this belief is unhealthy. Kids are more perceptive and observant than many adults give them credit for being, and it’s likely your children have realized something is wrong with your behavior, even if they don’t entirely grasp what it is.
By deciding to enter addiction treatment, you will give your children a sense of relief that things are going to get better. However, it’s understandable they might be scared or confused, especially about the idea that you are going to be away from home for a while. That’s why a fundamental part of preparing to enter treatment is to explain to your children, in an age-appropriate way, that you are going to a rehab facility.
Define the Addiction
Open the conversation by spelling out that you are sick, and that you are going to a special place where kind people will help you get better. Be sure to use child-friendly language that they can clearly understand. Depending on their age, you may want to ask if they are aware that you have an illness called addiction. If their answer is yes, follow up by asking them to explain their thoughts and feelings about it.
Explaining to your children that you are going to treatment can be an emotional conversation, but breaking down in tears will not make it easier on you or your children. If you feel yourself struggling to keep your composure, pause for a moment to collect yourself and take a few deep breaths. Meanwhile, be sure your children understand it’s OK for them to feel sad, angry or afraid, and that you will listen to anything they want to tell you.
Tell Them Where You’re Going
Your children will probably have several questions about where you are going. Describe what the treatment facility is like, and show them photos online. Explain the activities you’ll be doing while you’re there. Reassure them that it is a safe environment where you will make new friends and have caring people looking after you. Reinforce the message that as soon as you are feeling better, you will return home to be with them.
Addiction Is a Family Disease
When you’ve finally stopped denying that your substance use is out of control and you need to seek help, you have given yourself an opportunity to make a fresh start in life. However, you also need to recognize you aren’t the only person your addiction has affected. Your entire family will be feeling the pain as well, especially younger children. Going to treatment gives you the chance to heal and move forward as a family.
At Canyon Crossing, our family program is part of the range of treatment options we offer at our accredited Arizona drug and alcohol rehab center. To learn more about how we can help you recover, reach out to us anytime.