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Explaining Drug Addiction to Kids

Kids In Homes With Addicts: Explaining Addiction to Kids

A child that lives in a home where there is a substance abuse problem is going to experience a very harsh time in their life. There is going to be chaos and misunderstanding. When the addict is outside of the home, they are going to try to hide their addiction, so they are going to act normal and pretend that everything is all right. If the child does not fully understand what is going on inside the home, he or she is going to draw his or her own conclusions.

Unhealthy Responses

Below you will find a list of ways that children can respond negatively to drug or alcohol abuse inside the home:

  • The child may try to take on a huge part of the family’s responsibility.
  • The child may try too hard to be perfect at everything they do.
  • The child can become withdrawn and isolated.
  • Kids can be more aggressive and begin to act out. This will probably more than likely show up in places like church or school.
  • It is possible that the child might even begin to partake in substance abuse.

Confusing Feelings

Children that live in homes where there is a substance abuse problem can suffer from a variety of confusing feelings like:

  • Anger
  • Worry
  • Uncertainty
  • Fear
  • Sadness
  • Blame
  • Guilt
  • Resentment
  • Shame
  • Rejection

It is highly important for the kids to know that it is all right to experience these feelings. The child needs to know that it is okay to reach out and talk to someone about the issue. The child needs someone in their life that they can trust and feel open to talk to.

How To Help

Children, who find themselves in these types of situations, are going to need help. Some of the ways to help them are by: helping them recognize and express their feelings, tell the children that other families suffer from the same issues, let the children know that none of this is their fault, and the child needs to know that recovery is a very long process with a lot of ups and downs.

Toddlers And Preschool Children

Discussing substance abuse with children can be very hard and awkward. It is important that you speak to them in a manner in which they can understand. If you are dealing with a toddler or preschool child, they understand simple short sentences. Do not get too technical when trying to explain things. You want to try to make the child’s life as normal as possible. It might even help to try engaging the child in a fun activity that he or she might be interested in.

Elementary Aged Children

Elementary aged children can understand more information than younger children. It is highly likely that they have already had information about drugs passed on to them through school classes. However, you should be ready to answer their questions truthfully.


Teenagers are going to be able to understand everything that you are telling them. Teenagers will be worried about what their peers think of them and their family. By sharing information with a teenager, you are encouraging them to open up and talk about their thoughts and concerns.

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