• Balancing Addiction Recovery and Your Children
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    Balancing Addiction Recovery and Your Children

    Now that you are in recovery, you might wonder just how much you should tell your children about your former addiction. Should you really tell them all the truth or just tell them the basics? Are you afraid that they will think of you differently or treat your differently? Addiction recovery and your kids can sometimes be challenging, but keep in mind that many recovery addicts are quite effective when it comes to balancing it all out in a favorable manner.

    Share Your Journey

    If you’ve still got kids at home and they are at an age where they understand a little bit about alcohol and drug use, it’s fine to share with them what exactly you are going through right now. Depending on their age, they may already know that you’ve had a problem with addiction based on past behaviors or simple observation. Older kids tend to know when their parent has come to rely on alcohol or drugs more than they should. They may not mention this, but they’ve been around long enough to know when a parent is “not quite living right” when it comes to substances or odd behavior.

    Explain what is going on to your children in a way that they can understand. Let them know that you did struggle with an addiction, but now you are in recovery and doing your best to get your life back in order so that you and your children can have a better life. Tell them that as you put your primary focus on staying clean and getting through any emotional issues that have been harming you, you will be happier and able to be a better parent.

    Tell Them About Your Recovery Plan

    Let the children know what your recovery plan is so they can feel as if they are included. If your plan is to attend a 12 Step meeting three or four evenings per week, let them know. If you’re going to a counselor or you want to attend a rehab, be up front with them. There is no shame in any recovery efforts and your children will respect you for telling them the truth. This puts them in a position where they understand and can root for you and back you up wholeheartedly.

    Keep the Child’s Needs in Mind

    Chances are your children will need to get some healing as well, as the home environment could have been less than optimal depending on the severity of the addiction. As you relate to the children that you are doing all you can to get your life in order, ask them if they have any issues that they need help with. Encourage them to be open and honest with you. Are they angry? Sad? Are they willing to talk with a counselor?

    By keeping their needs in mind, you are staying balanced when it comes to recovery and the family. Be sure to spend quality time with them and engage in conversation regularly. If you’re cranky due to intense stress or cravings, let them know that you’re doing your best and it’s not them. Tell them you’re working through your cravings and withdrawal symptoms and over time, it will get easier. Let them encourage you as well.

    As you allow your children to be involved in the recovery process, they will feel more a part of the family life. They will also come to understand the concept of teamwork, forgiveness, starting over, new chances, and so much more. Including your children in the process just might be much easier than you think, so go ahead and include them as best as you can.

    Dominica Applegate has a BS in Psychology, an MA in Counseling and has worked in the mental health field for 12 years before launching her own business as a writer. Specializing in addictions, relationships, codependency, fitness and health, Dominica’s work is ultimately about helping people remove blocks that keep them stuck, because everyone can really create a life that they love.

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