Explaining substance abuse to children living in a home with an addiction problem is very important. If the problem goes unexplained, children are likely to draw conclusions which are usually wrong. Different children respond to such situations differently, and this affects their lives in a negative way.
How to Explain Addiction to Children
Some of them may take on family responsibilities that are usually meant for adults while others may try to become perfectionists. Some will be isolated and withdrawn while others may become aggressive or even start using substances.
It is very common for children living in homes with substance abuse issues to develop unhealthy feelings such as fear, blame, anger, sadness, shame, rejection, uncertainty or resentment.
Explaining substance abuse to children will help them understand that it is normal for them to experience these feelings, no matter how scary most of them will be. They need to understand that it is okay to ask for help when things get too rough. This can only be done by a responsible adult who is both trustworthy and caring.
It is important to explain to these children that there are other families out there going through similar problems and that it is okay for them to express how they feel about the whole thing. The children also need to be assured that they are not responsible in any way for the substance abuse in their family and that it may take a while for the patient to fully recover from the addiction.
Explaining these problems to children can be challenging and one needs to ensure that only the right amount of information is given to them based on their ages. For instance, when explaining to preschool children and toddlers, one will need to use short, simple sentences, avoiding technical terms that can be confusing to them. School-age children will be easier to work with since they understand better than toddlers. All you need to do is be ready to answer all their questions clearly and honestly.
Teenagers on the other hand are likely to have gotten drug awareness sessions at schools and will understand better when you explain the problem to them. The most common problem with teenagers faced with substance use in the family is their concern about what others think about them individually and their family. Creating a comfortable environment for them to share will encourage them to open up more.
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