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How To Talk To Your Teen About Your Addiction

How To Talk To Your Teen About Your Addiction, conversation about addiction treatment,

When adults come to our North Charleston and Cameron residential treatment programs for their substance use disorder (SUD), they often leave children at home, under the care of family members or friends.  

The strain that a caretaker’s absence may create for families can be overwhelming, especially for teenage children. At a tender time in their development, teens who see a mother, father, or parental figure go to rehab can experience a high level of stress—but that doesn’t have to be the case, and it shouldn’t stop parents who need addiction care from getting help. 

The right conversations, the availability of therapeutic tools, and enrollment in family services programs can help teens cope with having a family member go to rehab. 

It’s also crucial to remember that the effort you’re putting into beating addiction will help you protect and nurture your family in ways you cannot do while using substances. Here are some of the most telling statistics about teens who live with parents who have a substance use disorder: 

  • Teens who come from homes affected by SUD are more likely to contend with lower socioeconomic situations and status.
  • Kids who have a parent with SUD are more at risk for experiencing roadblocks at the academic, social, and familial levels—especially when untreated.
  • Children growing up around the presence of addiction or the absence of a parent due to addiction are much more likely to report parental abuse/neglect and poverty conditions. 

When you open the doors for honest discussion with your children about entering treatment, you help to prepare them for a difficult but important transition for the entire family. 

Waypoint Recovery Center understands the need for families to communicate when parents are in treatment, and we offer family services to help families communicate in healthy, productive ways. Continue reading to learn more about how to support your teen throughout your addiction recovery process.  

Pointers For Speaking With Teenagers About Going To Rehab

While we often struggle to accept that children grow up, it’s important to remember teens are no longer toddlers or little children. Once a child reaches their teen years, they’re capable of understanding more complex emotions, situations, and consequences. They can appreciate honesty and transparency. With this in mind, here are a few pointers for beginning a conversation about addiction treatment:

  • Start with defining addiction as a disease. Explain which substance you have an addiction to and how it has impacted your daily responsibilities, behaviors, feelings, and family life. 
  • Explain the best treatment options for your SUD, how you will be enrolling with Waypoint for help, and that this is a medical recommendation.
  • Lay out the details of the program: what it offers, how long it lasts, and how the lines of communication between you and your child will function. 
  • Explain in detail how your teen’s routine and care will change in your absence. 
  • Open the floor for any questions or reactions they may have, and listen to these without judgment.

You can also take the opportunity to advise your child against using substances. Let them know what led you to explore the substance you’re now addicted to and the negative consequences that have ensued. Show that you understand firsthand the destruction that addiction causes. This is a chance to be transparent about your failures, vulnerabilities, and hopes that your child will choose a higher path. 

What To Watch For in Your Teen While You’re Away

Be sure to communicate to your spouse or to the person who will act as caretaker to your teen the different signs of substance abuse. Kids with parents battling addiction have a higher chance of developing addiction themselves. 

As much as possible, monitor your child’s state of mind and physical appearance—whether through phone calls, family visits, or getting regular reports from the caretaker. If any of the following are observed in your child, talk with your therapist about how to proceed:

  • A decline in grades/academic performance and/or reports from teachers outlining personality changes.
  • Changes in friend patterns, dress patterns, eating habits, and mood/mood swings
  • Missing money or evidence of using alcohol or drugs at home
  • Use of incense, candles, or other odor eliminators—along with mouthwash or heavy perfumes 
  • An uptick in secretive behavior 
  • Seeing paraphernalia, rolling papers, or other objects associated with smoking or using drugs in your child’s possession

Get Treatment For Addiction in North Charleston

We’re here for you and your family in North Charleston and Cameron. With our therapy programs and integrated family dynamics, you can expect to return healthy and strong to your family upon completing residential or outpatient treatment. Contact us with questions or concerns. 


waypoint recovery center

For more information about Waypoint Recovery Center’s substance use disorder treatment services, please contact us anytime at (854) 214-2100.

Our Locations

Outpatient Treatment
5401 Netherby Lane, Suite 402
North Charleston, SC 29420
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Inpatient Treatment
499 Wild Hearts Rd
Cameron, SC 29030
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