Helping Children Cope When a Parent is in Addiction Treatment

Addiction is a disease that affects the entire family, not just the person who is misusing drugs or alcohol. Substance use impacts everyone’s life. An estimated 25% of children affected by addiction in their family are under age 18. Entering addiction treatment with children at home can be a difficult decision, but realize that it can be the best choice for the whole family.

Helping children to understand what is happening and why their parent is going away for treatment can be challenging, but with the right approach, parents and family can make the situation a little easier. Choosing an addiction treatment center for parents can help you learn strategies for talking with your children and helping them adjust.

People You Trust

One of the hardest parts of addiction recovery for parents is leaving their children. Entrusting their care to a grandparent, adult sibling, aunt or uncle, or close cousin can be a good option because parents are often close to these family members and know their children will be well cared for in their absence. Make plans with someone you can trust and rely on to care for your kids as they would their own while you are away so that you can focus on your recovery.

Seek Support

There are numerous resources available for children coping with parents’ addiction recovery. Enroll children in a support group so that they can be surrounded by others who are going through similar situations and can learn more about addiction and recovery. Support groups can also provide counseling for the adverse effect on children that addiction can have such as behavioral, emotional, or social issues. They may feel more comfortable opening up to peers and people other than family about their feelings as they build a network of support for coping with parents’ addiction recovery.


While it can be challenging, if you are entering addiction treatment with children at home, make it a point to talk to them yourself about what is happening. Reassure them that it is not their fault, and they cannot fix it. That is why you are seeking help and working with doctors and other professionals to get better. Use age-appropriate language and explanations, keeping things simple but honest. It can be better for them to hear these messages from you directly rather than another family member.

Keep Them Close (With Professional Help)

When exploring your options, look for an addiction treatment center for parents that understands your situation and the challenges you face. Some residential programs, like Crossroads’ Children and Mothers Program, allow parents to bring young children with them to the treatment facility so they do not have to worry about who will care for them in their absence. Keeping children close can help when coping with parents’ addiction recovery.

The CAMP program not only supports parents in overcoming addiction, it also helps them to build parenting, communication, and relationship skills while also accessing available resources for the whole family. Children are well cared for and also receive assistance to meet their needs. Addiction treatment with children can be made easier by having support with many aspects of life and embracing sobriety.

No one said that addiction recovery for parents would be easy, but it is definitely worth it. Addiction recovery can have a profound effect on families and especially children who are looking to make sense of everything and feel a sense of stability and support. When you seek treatment for addiction, you are showing your kids that recovery is possible and helping to reduce the risk of negative effects on their lives as they get older.

Find a treatment program that meets your needs, including being a parent and dealing with mental health. If you struggle with anxiety attacks or personality disorders, look for a center that offers co-occurring disorders treatment. Ask about programs such as Crossroads’ Children and Mothers Residential Program that will let you bring your kids along and make the decision to get help a little easier. You can be a parent in recovery and build a wonderful future in sobriety.