Addressing mature topics with younger children can be daunting, but when a parent, sibling, or close relation struggles with substance addiction, the need to explain addiction may present itself. Explaining addiction to a young child may seem impossible, but providing them with the information and support they need in the early stages of life creates an awareness of addiction and mental health that will benefit them as they age.
Children exposed to addiction through parents or older family members may feel that they are to blame for the behaviors. When explaining addiction, emphasize the message: it is not your fault. Children will often suffer feelings of guilt and shame, believing that their behaviors caused addiction.
Explain to them that one person cannot give another person a disease like addiction and that these diseases are the product of poor mental health and exterior circumstances. Also note that, like other diseases, addiction is treatable with proper care.
When approaching the issue with younger children, it’s important to be candid, even if their questions are uncomfortable. Broader questions may prove easier to answer than personal questions like, “Why is my dad drinking all the time?”
However, it’s your responsibility to accept, validate, and satisfy those questions to the best of your ability. If you know the answer, give it freely. This doesn’t mean you need to dredge up all of the details of that person’s life, but offering a concrete answer about the connection between mental health, exterior stressors, and substance abuse not only provides important information, but also encouragement for the child.
Don’t refuse to answer questions because you are embarrassed. Hiding information like the duration of the addiction or its impact on other relationships to diminish the severity of the disease only causes more insecurity in the child. SAMHSA publishes numerous pamphlets and informational videos that can help you address addiction with a younger person.
If you or somebody in your life is seeking treatment for substance addiction, there are treatment options at Alta Loma. You would bring your child to the doctor if they had a cold, and you deserve to ensure your own health by seeking mental health treatment. Alta Loma is a renowned mental health and substance abuse recovery facility for men located on a beautiful ranch in Texas. The professionals at Alta Loma are dedicated to providing you the tools for personal health and well-being that you will use for the rest of your life. If you are ready to start the journey to recovery call us today at (866) 457-3843 for a consultation.