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Talking to our children about addiction can be difficult. We might find it awkward or uncomfortable, or worse we might worry we’re putting ideas in our kids’ heads about doing drugs. The unfortunate truth, though, is that children are being exposed to drugs and alcohol at very early ages, from their friends, from marketing, from video games and entertainment. The more we’re able to talk to our kids about the realities of addiction, the more we can keep the lines of communication open so that they will feel comfortable coming to us with their questions. We want to build a level of trust with them where they feel they can come to us if they’re being pressured in school to try drugs, if they’re worried about a friend, or if they think they might already have a problem. Addiction can start at any age, and many addicts started experimenting and using while they were still very young, setting them up for many years of substance abuse. Once you feel it’s time to start talking to your kids about dating and relationships, and any other difficult subject, make discussing addiction a priority as well.

When we talk to our kids about addiction, chances are they already have some information, or misinformation, about drugs and alcohol. With all of the cultural messages they receive around experimenting and recklessness, kids are brainwashed to believe that fun and excitement go hand in hand with drugs and alcohol. Talk to them about the dangers of drug use, how easy it can be to get addicted even just experimenting, and the devastating effects of addiction. Tell them very clearly that addiction is not cool or glamorous. It is a destructive and debilitating, often fatal, illness that kills thousands of people every year. Help them dissect the messages they’re receiving from friends and popular culture. Work with them to see through the propaganda to the truth.

Talk to your kids about the importance of dealing with their emotions head on. Tell them about how suppressing emotions and avoiding feeling them can be directly linked to both addiction and mental health issues. Encourage them to talk to you about difficult emotions they’re experiencing. Help them explore healthy ways of processing their emotions, including journaling, meditation and therapy. Work with your kids to pursue their interests and passions. The more they give their energy to productive things, the more fulfilled they feel. Boredom and lack of purpose can contribute to experimenting, which can easily lead to getting hooked. Help them to find the things that make them excited about life, which can help deter them from wanting to go down a self-destructive path.

The treatment programs at Riverside Recovery are personalized to meet each individual’s unique needs and goals. Our commitment is to helping you heal mind, body and spirit. Call (800) 871-5440 for more information.