Helping Children Deal with a Family Member’s Substance Use: A Message of Resilience from Helene Photias of Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation

Helping Children Deal with a Family Member’s Substance Use: A Message of Resilience from Helene Photias of Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation

When a parent or other key adult in a family is dealing with substance abuse or addiction, children are affected in many ways. Their trust and security are undermined when parents are unable to provide the consistent, sensitive care children need and deserve. Children may fear the erratic, unpredictable behavior that is typical of people with substance abuse issues. Often, children cope by taking on the unspoken rules of “don’t talk, don’t trust, don’t feel,” at great expense to their health and wellbeing.

But, as this week’s guest, Helene Photias, knows, children begin to heal when adults talk to them candidly and in developmentally appropriate ways about what their problem is, why they are going to treatment and what they expect to learn there. Children also thrive when they are supported and encouraged to say how they feel and to learn that it is safe to break the rules of silence and tell the adults around them what they need. This is a rich and important conversation you won’t want to miss.

Is there someone in your family or close circle of friends who is struggling with substance use? What you noticed about the impact on children in the family? What specific points or suggestions in this Mom Enough discussion could help you or others in your circle support the resilience of children who are affected?

Related Resource:

To listen to When a Child Grows Up with Addiction podcast with Helene Photias, click here.

For the National Association for Children of Alcoholics, click here.

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