The children’s show Sesame Street has never been afraid of tackling challenging subjects like HIV, jailed parents, and autism. Recently, Sesame Street published online segments that spoke about the opioid crisis. Sesame Street is breaking the stigma of opioid addiction by teaching children that there is a problem happening and what it is like to be the child of a parent struggling with addiction.

Why Did the Creators of Sesame Street Want to Tackle Opioid Addiction?

The creators of Sesame Street saw that 5.7 million children under age 11 live with a parent who has substance abuse disorder. Kama Einhorn, senior content manager for the Sesame Workshop, felt like there wasn’t enough content out there that showed substance abuse from a child’s perspective. This can also be a good model for adults to have a conversation with their children about what they are going through and how to cope. 

What Happened in the Online Segments?

In one segment, a green, yellow-haired muppet Karli speaks with her friend Salia. They reveal that both of their parents struggle with addiction. They explain that addiction means that people “feel like they have to take drugs or drink alcohol to feel OK.” The muppet explains that she felt better after meeting other kids with the same problem and that she is not alone. Karli and Salia held up hand-drawn pictures of flowers with multiple petals that represent feelings like anger, sadness, and happiness. They both offered art and breathing exercises to help. The creators would say “addiction” to “substance abuse” and “recovery” to “sobriety” since those terms are clearer to children. 

In another segment, Karli opens up to Abbi Cadabby and tells Elmo about how she used to feel her mother’s addiction was her fault. She was reassured by her mom that it was not her fault and that she loves her. This leads to the cast singing “We’re Special and So Are You.” Viewers are referred to free online resources in English and Spanish that includes videos, books, and games. 

What Were the Reactions to the Online Segments?

The reactions to the Sesame Street segments were mostly met with applause and just one columnist feeling like kids should not be watching this. By having these segments be online, adults have the choice of showing their children these videos and keeping them informed of how important it is to have these conversations with compassion and love.

Located in Georgetown, Texas, Alma Loma is a transformative living center to help those struggling in early recovery to transition out of our Psychiatric and Substance Abuse residential center. Alma Loma believes that addiction is born from an untreated mental illness in which our facility is here to help you. Our facility offers residency, medication management education, individualized treatment, life skills education, 12-step support, and more tools to bring patients the confidence to be able to live an independent life. For more information, please call us at 866-457-3843.