Teach Your Children Well…about Addiction

 When is the right time to talk to children about substance abuse and chemical dependency?

An article in HuffPost.com presents a view on this matter. It advises to “start early.” A heralded children’s resource certainly appears to agree with this approach – “Sesame Street.” Why? Recently, a sweet young bright green furry resident arrived in the neighborhood through foster care. It turns out that her mother has an addiction. With that, the series is exploring the backstory and, in the process, teaching viewers about this issue.

Why should you teach children about addiction?child sad over parents addiction to substances

Addiction is indeed prevalent in this country and around the world. American Addiction Centers has a word for the extent of it. This trusted source characterizes the number of people who suffer from addiction in the U.S. as “astounding.” Data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), posted on the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) website, proves this point. They used 2017 as a timeframe. In that year, 19.7 million people at least 12 years of age struggled with a substance use disorder. Of that total, 74 percent had an alcohol use disorder and 38 percent had an illicit drug use disorder. Put together, one out of every eight adults had both an alcohol and drug use disorder. That adult could be you, a member or members of your family, or close friend or friends.

Next in line is the all-important question. How should you talk to children about this?

The answer to it requires two parts. The first goes back to the consideration of when. Ideally, you should broach this subject before children learn about it from others. The HuffPost quoted the director of prevention services at the Council on Alcohol & Drug Abuse (CADA) for Greater New Orleans on this point. They noted, “You can start talking to preschoolers and younger kids.” In these and all instances, it is necessary to keep the discussions appropriate for the child’s age level. Present snippets or more, either directly or indirectly, in the best way for the child, tween, and adolescent to understand.

A Quick Resource List

With that principle in mind, the second part of the answer has to do with the information to share. There is a lot available in this regard from numerous reputable sources. To help, we offer an array of resources:

There are others as well. This all goes to show that these are discussions that need to happen.


Read More from Sherry M. Adler:

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