Why You Should Talk to Your Kids About Addiction

 In Addiction

Addiction is a serious condition and can impact anyone at any time. While many people don’t think about children as being vulnerable to addiction, the reality is the adolescent population is in danger of suffering from addiction as well as adults. Whether it’s alcohol or drug abuse, both issues should be addressed with kids. It’s important to be transparent instead of trying to shield them from the topic. For those who might be a bit nervous to address this topic, that’s ok and totally normal. There are ways to talk to kids without being too graphic or having the subject matter go over their head. 

What Is Addiction?

Addiction is a medical condition where someone’s brain is rewired to believe it requires an addictive substance to remain alive when, in fact, it does not. Most people are familiar with the feelings of hunger and thirst that come on if someone has gone a while without eating or drinking. Those who suffer from addiction get similar cravings from addictive substances when they have gone a while without them. For example, someone who is addicted to alcohol may crave beer when they wake up because they have gone all night without drinking. People are willing to sacrifice everything to feed that addiction, which is why this disorder strains relationships with family members and friends as well. 

Why You Should Talk to Your Kids About Addiction

There are a few reasons why addiction should be discussed with kids and parents, teachers, mentors, or adult influences in a child’s life. 

Addiction can be hereditary: There is an inherited component to substance abuse that can be passed down from generation to generation. If you are a parent or a caretaker for a child and blood relative, you will want to talk to the kids of the household about addiction. They should know if they are more vulnerable to addiction than other kids. 

The internet contains false information: The internet can be a great educational tool but also can spread false information due to the fact that it’s unregulated. Kids to be spoken directly to adults about the dangers and warning signs of addiction because if they were to google “drugs” or “alcohol”, all different results come up. Personal blogs written as if they’re factual based are floating around on the internet and kids may not know the difference between a reputable source (.govs or .edu) vs. a non accredited source (wikipedia). 

Other kids may be experimenting: Kids aren’t under adult supervision 24/7. Part of growing up and developing an identity is by having some freedom. If kids are taught about the dangers of drugs and alcohol at home or at school, they’re more likely to say no to drugs when offered at a social gathering. It’s important to get ahead of the game and stop drugs or alcohol from being taken in the first place. 

How to Talk About Addiction

Luckily there are resources available for adults who need to talk to kids about addiction. The most important thing to keep in mind is approaching kids on their level. Kids of different ages have different comprehension levels. For example, if you’re an adult and need to talk to a 12-year-old and 16-year-old, it’s best to have separate conversations. A great way to approach the subject with the 12-year-old is discussing a recent event. Maybe there is a family member who suffers from addiction or perhaps a kid at school got in trouble recently. When talking about the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse, this will give the child a frame of reference.

For the 16-year-old, they may have already been in a situation where drugs or alcohol were offered to them. As an adult, you will want to approach them in a nonjudgmental way and ask open-ended questions. The adolescent will be more likely to open up to you if they feel comfortable. If they feel like they’re at risk of being punished if they tell the truth, they’re much more likely to lie. 

We Can Help with the Hard Stuff

At Adolescent Wellness Academy, we are an adolescent and teen program for substance abuse and mental illness provided by Principles Recovery Center located in Davie, FL. At Adolescent Wellness Academy, we offer an after-school IOP program with transportation to our program from school available in most areas of South Florida. Our trained professionals have a tremendous amount of experience working with teens from diverse backgrounds to ensure that we provide addiction treatment options that have been tailored to meet the needs of our patients. If you would like to learn more about our addiction recovery program, please contact us today! 

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