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How to Explain Addiction to a Child

Children are well known for asking very direct, innocent questions. They want to understand the world around them, even when you don’t know how to explain it to them. When they know that a loved one is going to a southern California detox facility, they are bound to ask questions. Don’t assume they won’t have heard anything on their own. They are bound to overhear some conversation that will open a floodgate of questions. Are you prepared to answer them?

Take the Medical Route

Addiction is just now losing the stigma of being a character defect, rather than a medical issue. It would be a good idea to help get rid of that stigma by telling your children the truth: that this is an illness that needs to be treated. Explain that it is no different than any other long term illness. However, you might want to avoid words like “cancer,” because you may make the child panic and worry about an impending death.

Explain Symptoms

Inevitably, once you explain that addiction is a medical affliction, the child is going to ask about the details. This is when you can talk about some of the symptoms of addiction. It may help to further a child’s understanding if you describe some of the withdrawal symptoms, like nausea and severe headaches.

Be honest with your children. Let them know that the loved one is getting help at a southern California detox, just as they would at a hospital or clinic. The important thing is to answer the questions and focus on the medical aspects, rather than teaching children to see addiction as a personality flaw.

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