How to Prepare Your Children When You Go to Treatment

prepare your children when you go to treatment

You have been addicted to drugs or alcohol and are now ready to go to treatment. That’s a great first step toward your successful recovery. If you happen to also be a parent, you may be worried about the effect of your addiction treatment on your children. Knowing how to prepare your children when you go to treatment will help everyone navigate through the process.

Scary and Confusing

To a child, regardless of age, a parent’s addiction and treatment can be scary and confusing. However, your children are not alone in their situation. In the US, over 8 million children live with parents who abuse drugs. In addition, an estimated 26.8 million children are exposed to alcoholism in their family.

The chaos and unpredictable behavior of someone who is addicted can disrupt family life, including the lives of the children. To prepare your children when you go to treatment, clear and calm communication about your addiction and your treatment is going to be essential.

Talking to Younger Children

Use simple terms and examples when explaining your situation to younger children. Especially if you have kids that are under the age of 10, remember that they are still in the “me-centered” view of their world. They may think you are having to go to treatment because of something they did.

Reassure them that they didn’t cause your addiction. Explain that you are sick and that you are going to get the help you need to get better. You can compare your addiction to a tummy ache or a cold they may have had, that you took them to a doctor to treat. Most importantly, reassure them that you love them and are not leaving them, but are just going away for a while to get treatment for your illness.

Talking to Tweens and Teens

Tweens and teenagers also need to be reassured that your addiction to drugs or alcohol is in no way their fault. For children who are a little older, but not quite teenagers, be open and honest about your addiction. You don’t want them coming up with their own ideas about what you are going through, based on their friends’ comments or what they see on social media.

This is not the best time to talk to them about potentially becoming addicted themselves, though. Stay focused on your journey and on helping them understand why you need to go to treatment.

When your children are teenagers, they may have been more greatly impacted by your addiction. Be sensitive about how they are feeling now, especially if they have had to take on extra household or childcare duties because of your addiction. They may even feel resentful because of this.

Older children will have a better understanding of how addiction works but let them know they can feel free to ask you any questions they may have as you prepare for treatment. When they ask, be sure to give them straightforward, fact-filled answers. Teenagers are usually smart enough to know when you’re not being truthful!

Explaining That Addiction is a Disease

To prepare your children when you go to treatment, help them to understand that addiction is a disease. You can go into more detail with older children, but in general the concept of an illness makes the situation easier for them to understand and to accept.

Let your children know that you are going to get treated for your illness, but that it may take some time. Explain to them that addiction treatment is a process, possibly a lengthy one, but that you are determined to make it work for your own health and for the sake of the entire family. If you are going to inpatient treatment, let them you how long you’ll be gone, and reassure them that you are doing it because you want everyone in the family to be able to heal.


At BRC Recovery, we recognize that addiction is a family disease. It can negatively impact every member of your family, including and especially your children. We are here to help you and your family with an addiction treatment program that is individualized specifically for your needs. We offer you holistic healing in a warm, supportive, community-driven environment that will help you rebuild and reclaim your life.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, we offer a safe, clean environment so you can continue receiving the highest quality of care. To learn more about our services and to get the help you need, please call BRC Recovery at 1-866-291-2676 to speak to our team.