You’re getting ready to go back home from your medically supervised alcohol detox, and drug rehabilitation in South Florida. Rehab was intense and life changing. You really delved into your therapy and discovered so much of who you are and learned more about what your triggers are and how you are vulnerable to stress and the way your trauma affects your everyday life. Now it’s time to go home and you have to face your kids. Whether they are young and old they will likely have very complicated feelings about the fact that you have an addiction. Society gives them reason for this conflict. The social stigma against addiction can permeate even your own home. But you also need to look at this and feel it from their perspective. Having a parent who is addicted to drugs or alcohol, especially if that addiction led to anyone getting hurt, can be a source of trauma for a child. This is every reason for you to sit down with them and talk with them about your struggle. Help them understand that you know they are hurting, and most importantly tell them about your treatment and share with them your plan and strategies for a sober and healthy life.
With younger kids you have to break it down to a level that addresses their pain, but also make sure you aren’t overwhelming them with needless and scary details. Your priorities here are to help them understand that you love them, and that you have a plan to choose sobriety every day.
Your older kiddos will be a harder audiance. The older they get, sometimes the harder it is for a kid to accept a parents failures. Maybe because they are so desperately scared by their own vulnerability and by the chaos of changes going on in their own hearts and minds, that instability from their parents, who are supposed to be a firm foundation, can really feel like an insurmountable problem. Your priorities when talking with them are first, letting them know you love them. Be sincere and apologize for hurting them or scaring them. Be very open that it isn’t their fault. But also, break down your sober living strategies more for them. Help them understand that when you were in rehab you learned more about yourself and how very important communication and vulnerability is in relationships. Tell them that they are your priority and so sobriety will always be your focus because you want to always be there for them.
It may take a while for your kids to come back to you with full trust. You must understand that the fear and trauma that can come with having an parent struggling with addiction can make a child or young adult act a little like a wounded animal. But eventually with reassurance and consistency, you can win back their trust and have a full parent, child relationship again.