Open Accessibility Menu
How to Talk to Your Child About Addiction

How to Talk to Your Child About Addiction

Silver Ridge

Addiction is a family disease, according to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence.1 Family members develop unhealthy behaviors to cope with the chaos that addiction brings to the household, and this causes stress on the family system, often leading to deep dysfunction. Learning how to talk to your child about addiction could greatly benefit everyone in the long run.

Children are particularly vulnerable when it comes to living with an addicted parent. They may feel insecure and confused when their parent is under the influence, and many children blame themselves for their parent’s drug abuse. Children may withdraw into isolation, strive for perfection to keep the peace, or act out at home or school. Children whose parents suffer from addiction are up to four times more likely than their counterparts to become addicted themselves.2

When you talk to your child about addiction, it can help reduce their feelings of insecurity and may prevent them from developing unhealthy coping behaviors. Here are some tips for talking to a child about an addicted parent.

Educate Yourself

Before you have the conversation, learn all you can about addiction so that you can answer your child’s questions accurately. If your child asks a question that you don’t know the answer to, find the answer together.

Choose the Timing

Talk to your child about addiction when things are calm and there are no distractions. If the addicted parent is involved in the conversation, talk when the parent is not under the influence.

Tell the Truth

mother and sonThe language you use and the details you divulge will depend on the age and maturity level of your child, but the important thing is to be honest. Explain that addiction is a disease, and like other diseases, it requires treatment. Tell your child that addiction changes the way the brain works, and it affects how the parent behaves.

If the addicted parent is seeking treatment, let the child know that their parent is getting help. If the addicted parent is not seeking treatment, tell the child that you have hope that the parent will get help soon.

Acknowledge the Impact of the Addiction

Let the child know that you understand that the addiction has had an impact on their life. Validate their experiences, and apologize for the pain the addiction has caused. Ask open-ended questions about how the addiction makes them feel, and listen to the response. Reassure them that the addiction is not their fault.

Teach the Seven Cs

The National Association for Children of Alcoholics recommends teaching children the seven Cs of addiction:

I didn’t cause it. I can’t cure it. I can’t control it. I can take care of myself by communicating my feelings, making healthy choices for myself and celebrating me.

Encourage the child to engage in outside activities like sports or clubs. Help them find ways to have fun and be a kid.

Get Outside Help

The National Institute on Drug Abuse for Parents recommends getting outside help, either through individual counseling that will help your child develop healthy coping skills or through a support group like Alateen.3 Doing so can help prevent a range of lifelong problems down the road.



Focus, Healing, and Recovery

Life at Silver Ridge is purposely designed to provide the safest and most restorative healing environment on the East Coast. If you would like to learn more about Silver Ridge or begin addiction treatment today, please call (855) 945-7788 or fill out the form and one of our admissions staff will be in touch with you soon.

  • Please enter your First Name.
  • Please enter your Last Name.
  • This isn't a valid phone number.
    Please enter your phone number.
    You entered an invalid number.
  • This isn't a valid email address.
    Please enter your email address.
  • Please make a selection.
  • Sivermist
    Sivermist Sivermist

    Offering luxury residential treatment at a private residence in rural southwestern Pennsylvania.

  • REAL Recovery
    REAL Recovery REAL Recovery

    Providing high-quality, adventure-based and personalized care with four sober homes for men ages 18-28 in Asheville, North Carolina.

  • High Focus Centers
    High Focus Centers High Focus Centers

    The premier provider of structured outpatient behavioral health and addiction treatment programs in New Jersey.

  • Rehab After Work
    Rehab After Work Rehab After Work

    The leading provider of outpatient drug and alcohol treatment programs in Pennsylvania.

  • Pyramid Healthcare Inc
    Pyramid Healthcare Inc Pyramid Healthcare Inc

    A premier provider of behavioral healthcare founded in 1999 offering a full continuum of recovery services for adults and teens at 24 locations in PA.

  • The light program
    The light program The light program

    Treating individuals in crisis or struggling to function through mental health Intensive Outpatient programs at locations in southeastern Pennsylvania.

  • Seeds of hope
    Seeds of hope Seeds of hope

    Providing specialized Intensive Outpatient eating disorder treatment for teens and adults in southeastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

  • Mazzitti & Sullivan EAP
    Mazzitti & Sullivan EAP Mazzitti & Sullivan EAP

    Providing comprehensive Employee Assistance Program services to employers nationwide.

  • Mazzitti & Sullivan
    Mazzitti & Sullivan Mazzitti & Sullivan

    Providing behavioral health services in central Pennsylvania since 1983, now operating five different locations.

  • Tapestry
    Tapestry Tapestry

    Tapestry Eating Disorder Treatment Centers

  • Pyramid Family Behavioral Healthcare
    Pyramid Family Behavioral Healthcare Pyramid Family Behavioral Healthcare

    Serving the Atlanta, Georgia area adolescents and adults suffering from Mood Disorders.

  • October Road Inc
    October Road Inc October Road Inc

    Serving the Asheville, North Carolina area with high-quality mental health and substance abuse treatment since 2006.

  • Walden
    Walden Walden

    Offering treatment & support options in Southern Maryland for those struggling with addiction and mental health.