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Young people living with adults struggling with addiction, face unique challenges, many of which are rarely addressed because, as we know, there is often a culture of silence, shame, avoidance and denial surrounding addiction. The Al-ATot and Al-ATeen programs are designed for these children who might not be able to discuss their parents’ or caregivers’ addictions elsewhere. They might not feel comfortable opening up to a teacher, counselor or social worker. In these support groups, children benefit from being around other people their age going through similar things and living with similar challenges. They start to open up and express their feelings, something that is of critical importance to the healing process. They begin to feel more understood, validated and supported, which helps them to feel less alone and to stop isolating themselves as much.

A primary focus of these children’s programs is to help young people realize that they are not to blame for the adults’ problems. Self-blame is something many children take on when it comes to addiction, particularly after traumatic experiences such as divorce or conflict. With these programs, children begin to see that the responsibility for the addiction lies with the addict alone and that there isn’t anything they did wrong to bring on these struggles. They’re not inadequate or unworthy in any way because the addict in their life is mistreating or neglecting them. They are innocent in all of it and realizing this helps open children up to the healing power of detachment. They’re able to detach from the feelings of culpability and accountability that cause them to be self-destructive, that contributes to their own depression and other mental health issues, and that makes them feel increasingly worse about themselves.

Children’s support programs are designed to help young people build emotional coping skills and resilience. They learn through specialized activities and exercises how to identify, process, manage and communicate their emotions. They learn how to reach out for help if need be. They learn how to assert themselves and stick up for themselves, something that is so hard to do when they’re dealing with an addict who is demeaning or belittling towards them. They learn that they are strong and that they are survivors, even when it doesn’t feel that way. These programs serve as a means of self-empowerment for young people, and it’s never too early for them to start learning these skills when living with an addict.

Riverside Recovery is committed to helping you get back the life you love. Our treatment programs include multiple forms of therapy, family workshops, and mindfulness-based relapse prevention education. Call (800) 871-5440 for more information.