Explaining substance use, addiction, and treatment to kids is a conversation that many people find extremely difficult, but it can also be helpful and inspirational. There are a variety of educational outlets to help you better discuss difficult topics like these with your kids. However, sometimes talking to children is complicated because their ability to fully understand the core concepts of the topic isn't developed. Learning how to have this conversation can make the child's experience much easier, especially if one of their loved ones is going through treatment.
The Story of a Child Who Died From Heroin Overdose
Back in 1970, an article flooded throughout the nation as a young, 12-year old child died from a heroin overdose. According to the New York Times article ‘Obituary of a Heroin User Who Died at 12,’ the child was extremely vulnerable. The story touched the hearts of many parents and family members throughout the nation. It’s been a while since this tragedy happened, but recently, a photograph of Walter resurfaced, leading a call to increase awareness for friends and family members who have a loved one struggling with substance use today.
The child's death was a tragic event that pulled on the heartstrings of parents and family members, leading them to want to talk more to their kids about addiction and treatment. There are many children today who struggle with substance use or addiction, using them as a tool to prevent the feelings of isolation and being overwhelmed.
Healthcare professionals and the addiction recovery community built some treatment options and methods that are more effective for children, but the levels of addiction in the nation continue to remain too high. They are still revealing the high risk of overdose deaths, despite the treatment options available. Talking with your children and raising their awareness about addiction and education helps reduce the stigmas surrounding addiction for the younger generation.
Many parents want to find the means to generally talk about addiction and treatment with their children. This increase in awareness is a core element of harm reduction strategies.
Talking to Your Kids
As a parent, you want to protect your children and avoid their vulnerability regarding drugs. However, at some point or another, the discussion of addiction and substance use will almost certainly be brought up. If you think that your child is aware, engaging in a continued conversation about the topic can establish fundamental grounds to keep your child safe. The first step when talking to children is to not assume that the child knows all of the dangers that come with substance abuse. You should also focus on having this conversation at the right time. Starting your conversation about substance use too late may have counterproductive effects.
An average time to discuss addiction is around the age of five. Children around five years old are perceptive and discussing protection and safety with them at this age can help because they follow your advice as a parent without questioning it. Start by discussing different cold medicines and explaining to them that taking too much could be dangerous. The best way to do it is to emphasize how serious the medicine is when taken without guidance or direction. Once they understand the different medicines at home, you can start discussing prescription medications.
You want to establish knowledge about the side effects of taking prescriptions that are prescribed and that taking too many can lead to a fatal outcome. Equally important is your duty to protect your children. Don’t hesitate to give them information and encourage them to ask questions and receive feedback. Many children are good at understanding adult conversations if it is delivered appropriately. Children like honesty in their parents, and it can help establish a deeper connection between the parent and child. You can briefly discuss peer pressure, too, and you should consider bringing up the topic more than once.
Finding the Right Education on Addiction and Treatment
The more education and knowledge you give to your children, the more they understand how the risk of substance use and abuse can affect them in their lives. With that said, you can discuss different lines of treatment when they’re old enough to understand, and you should emphasize that there are going to be some individuals who will be prone to addiction, even when they know the risks.
If you keep your dialogue open about addiction and treatments, you can reduce the likelihood of your children using substances in the future. Ultimately, the conversation of addiction and treatment is important for everyone to understand, including children.
At NorthStar Transitions, we want you to learn how to talk to your kids about addiction and treatment. If you or someone you love struggles with addiction and you want to explain to your children what it’s all about, reach out to our team today. We know how to open up lines of communication so that your child can understand addiction at its core. NorthStar Transitions provides the clear message that substance use is a dangerous risk in life, but with the right protections in place, you will find that your children can be trusted and are less likely to use the substances in their future. We can help teach you a safe and inclusive way to discuss addiction as well as learn all about the recovery process. If you struggle with addiction or if you know someone that needs more information about it, talk to us today at (303) 558-6400.