If you are someone who has struggled with addiction for a number of years but are now in recovery, you may be worried about the effect this has had on your children. Many people believe that children who have witnessed addiction first-hand will avoid drugs and alcohol as they get older; unfortunately, the truth is that children of addicts have a higher risk of becoming addicts themselves than those children of non-addicted parents. So what can you do to ensure your kids do not follow the same path you did?
Teenagers from any home are at risk of taking drugs and/or alcohol simply because of their age and the world in which they live. Peer pressure is often at the root of addiction but, because your children have already lived in a world where addiction was the norm for so long, they may be at a disadvantage when it comes to staying away from these substances. They are familiar with these substances and have come to know this world, even if it was an unhappy world.
However, if you want to give them a chance to live a different type of life to the one you have been living for so long, you can start by making your home a drug- and alcohol-free zone. This is more than just making sure that there are no bottles of alcohol or illegal drugs in the house. Many teenagers will steal prescription medication from the home, for example. As such, if there is a need for strong medication to be kept in the house, make sure it is locked away from children of all ages.
Make a point of telling your kids that alcohol and drugs are not cool. Try to get them to understand that you can have fun without these substances and remind them of all the bad times they have experienced because of your addiction to alcohol or drugs. Show them all the exciting things they can do that does not involve substance abuse, such as swimming, going to the cinema or bowling, etc.
Now that you are in recovery, there is no need to pretend as though you were never addicted. Do not try to brush your past under the carpet. Speak to your children about your addiction and of how it took so many good years away from you and them. Let them know that you are sorry that your actions caused them hurt and pain, and reassure them that you plan to enjoy the rest of your life sober. Your children need to know that they can rely on you going forward. If you can be honest with them now, you have a better chance of keeping them away from the drugs and alcohol that so blighted your life.
Let your children know how much you love them and make sure they know that they can tell you anything. Your kids need to know that they can talk to you about anything. They need to be loved and nurtured to feel safe. Failure to do this could mean they seek this comfort elsewhere; unfortunately, that could be in the arms of alcohol or drugs.
Children need attention in order to thrive. Your kids will have spent substantial periods of their lives knowing that drugs or alcohol were more important to you, so now that you are in recovery you need to make a point of spending time with them and taking an interest in their lives. If you do not give your children the attention they need, they may use negative actions to get it, which could end up being taking drugs or drinking alcohol. Praise them for their positive actions and make a fuss of them. By doing this, you could help to keep them on the right track as they get older.