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explaining alcoholism to a child

How to Tell My Children that I am Going to Rehab for Addiction Treatment?

Most parents want to be role models for their children and want to be healthy to watch them grow up. If you are reading this article, you might be one of them. Explaining alcoholism to a child or drug addiction to a child requires accurate information and understanding.

If you are ready to start on your recovery journey and you are going to be away from your kids for a while, depending on their ages, it is important to explain in a child-friendly language that you are going to a safe place to get well.

Your children will most likely have questions for you when you tell them this though, such as, “are you sick?” Depending on the ages of your children, you might want to ask them if they ever heard about an illness called addiction. If the answer to this question is yes, ask them what they know about addiction and how they feel about it. Then explain to them anything that they don’t understand and tell your children that you suffer from this sickness and am going away to get better.

How Does Addiction Affect the Family?

The physical and mental toll of addiction can drain you of your responsibilities. From dropping your kids off to soccer practice to making dinner on time, addiction can blur the lines of your role. Children deserve to experience a present parent. 

1 in 5 children grow up in a household where a parent abuses a substance. In fact, children are 3 times more likely to be neglected, physically or emotionally, when a parent abuses a substance. 

A parent with a substance use disorder can be a risk factor for addiction when it comes to their children. This is because a child’s genetics, social environment, self-esteem, and temperament impact a child’s chances of developing an addiction.

Frequent chaos and negative interactions are typical highlights of a parent with a substance use disorder. Thus, children may begin to act out as a response. Poor performance in school, social withdrawal, and even drug use can then present themselves in children. Children may even feel neglected by an addicted parent’s compulsive behaviors when substances take priority over the children’s needs.

As a result, children may take up certain roles or behaviors to cope. For one, your children could have difficulty trusting you, thus causing further damage to themselves. Mental health symptoms such as depression and anxiety can also influence children of addicts. Parents with substance use disorders can even put their children’s lives at risk, especially if they are involved in motor vehicle accidents.

How Should I Approach Telling My Children About My Addiction?

When explaining alcoholism to a child, or some other drug addiction to a child, you can either explain it to the child plainly or have the child share his or her own thoughts about it. Remember though that if your children are younger than 10 years old, they still view the world from a “me-centered” perspective. Thus, they might blame themselves or believe that they did something wrong to cause your addiction. Thus, make sure that you cater your approach for explaining alcoholism to a child or drug addiction to a child, based on your child’s age, maturity, and temperament. 

Parents with substance use disorders should make sure that their children understand that they didn’t cause the addictions to develop and that there’s nothing that they could do to prevent you from drinking or using drugs. Parents with substance use disorders that are planning on receiving addiction treatment should also be open with their children about entering rehab. Doing so will most likely give the children a sense of relief and hope.

By talking to your children at their level, they will have a better understanding of your situation. Your children should also know that you are going away for a little while so that you can get the help that you need to be healthy again. 

To put your children at ease, you can share photos of the place that you are going to receive treatment at. In addition, explaining how your day will play out with recreational activities and that you are going to be making new friends and having caring people looking after you, reinforces the message that you are going to a safe place to feel better. 

What If My Children Are Older?

Of course, if your children are older, the conversation about your addiction as a parent will be different. For instance, children that are teenagers might deny that you, as their parent, have an issue with substance use. This is often true even if teenaged children experience daily chaos and their lives have turned upside-down because of their parent’s substance abuse. You might also have a teen that is resentful of your addiction. 

Either way, you should be sensitive to how your addiction has impacted the lives of your children. Approach the conversation about your addiction as a parent with your teenager from a place of empathy. 

Ask your children questions so that you understand their perspectives on the situation. If when asking questions, you find that your children blame themselves for your addiction, reassure them that they are not at fault. Make sure that your children understand that they are understood that your addiction is not their responsibility.

You also can tell your children that lots of other kids have parents who are addicted to drugs or alcohol. So while what they’re experiencing is extremely difficult, they aren’t the only ones who are going through this experience.

Just knowing that there are others who are feeling the same pain and confusion as they are can be comforting to children. Thus, encourage children to talk to someone that they trust — a teacher, counselor, foster parent, or members of a peer support group such as Alateen.

How Can Family Therapy Help?

Family therapy provides essential tools for communication and building relationships. Family therapy also allows parents, siblings, and sometimes peers to engage in a dialogue about their experiences. 

Consistent research has indicated that family-based treatment is quite effective. Family-based treatments are typically offered in outpatient settings.

Explaining alcoholism to a child can be stressful and introduce many uncomfortable questions. 

Family-based treatment can be administered through the following approaches:

Brief Strategic Family Therapy (BSFT)

Over the course of 12-16 sessions, the BSFT counselor will evaluate a person’s problematic behavior which could stem from unhealthy family dynamics.

Family Behavior Therapy (FBT)

With proven effectiveness, FBT works to address not only substance abuse issues but other behavioral issues. The parent and child will choose family therapy evidence-based options that suit them, setting behavioral goals through a contingency management system.

Functional Family Therapy (FFT)

Functional family therapy highlights a combination of family system views with behavioral techniques. These techniques include conflict resolution, problem-solving, and parenting skills. The enhancement to motivate change is a core fundamental part of functional family therapy.

Multidimensional Family Therapy (MDFT)

This is considered the most comprehensive form of family therapy for its effectiveness in treating severe substance use disorders. The goal of MDFT is to improve family competency and collaboration with school and juvenile justice systems.

Multisystemic Therapy

Another comprehensive form of family therapy, multisystemic therapy has been effective at treating adolescents with severe substance use disorders. A multisystemic therapy counselor might conduct treatment with the family as a whole, or individually.

The Stigmas of Addiction

Addiction recovery can be enlightening for individuals that suffer from substance use disorders. Explaining alcoholism to a child may introduce ideas that they will look down on you. 

The stigmas of addiction can cause many people to refuse treatment, as addiction is still seen as a moral failure. Thus, you might fear what people will say about your recovery. Educating yourself about the science of addiction can help ease the discomfort that comes with others knowing about your recovery. Also, remember that by recovering from addiction, you’ve enabled a lifetime of learning new ways to love yourself.

Co-Occurring Mental Health and Substance Use Disorders

It’s common for people to self-medicate with substances. Mental health symptoms such as anxiety and depression can encourage you to abuse substances. Continuing to abuse substances to cope with mental illness can eventually cause you to develop a co-occurring disorder. Once that happens, dual diagnosis treatment is necessary to treat the co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders. 

The Science of Addiction

Addiction is a brain disease and can rewire the reward systems in the brain. One moment, your life is full of passion and healthy coping skills. The next moment, you’re on the floor from a severely heavy binge of alcohol

Addiction drives compulsive behaviors by manipulating the receptors in the brain. Neurotransmitters are chemical messengers that transmit throughout the brain, sending information to the body. These neurotransmitters are critical to our survival. 

Many individuals in addiction recovery rely on substances to feel and function after developing a tolerance to a drug. Dependence on a substance is an indicator of a substance use disorder.

How to Stay Motivated Through Addiction Recovery

Addiction recovery is a lifelong process. Addiction is a complex and taxing disease that requires support from different perspectives. There is no cure, although addiction is treatable. 

Explaining alcoholism to a child or drug addiction to a child may present uncomfortable feelings, as you navigate your relationships while recovering from addiction. When explaining substance addiction to your children, remind them that you’re sick and need professional help to be the best parent for them. Embrace this opportunity as a chance to grow. 

Parenting comes with its own challenges, and addiction can intensify them. Developing self-compassion may help you when explaining alcoholism to a child or drug addiction to a child. Setting goals for yourself in recovery can ignite an engine for consistent change.

Use Your Support System

Your support system has a major impact on the quality of your recovery. It’s important to have individuals in your life that will be able to hold you accountable, provide you with insight, and even take care of some of your responsibilities if need be.

If you’re admitted into an inpatient facility, you’ll want to have access and communication with your loved ones. Thus, understand that the challenges ahead will demand that you dig deep within yourself to maintain a steady recovery while away from your loved ones. Be transparent about your feelings, as relapse can loom in your vulnerable moments.

Life After Addiction Recovery

If you thought explaining alcoholism to a child was difficult, then the journey ahead might make you reconsider. After spending time in addiction rehab, you might have trouble adjusting to life without substances. Just remember though that maintaining sobriety is a marathon that is attainable. 

It’s vital to be prepared, especially by consulting with your counselor about ongoing recovery. This may include a relapse prevention plan. A relapse prevention plan is a set of guidelines for you to practice healthy coping skills when in scenarios where you could end up relapsing. 

Hobbies and extracurricular activities can be a wealthy tool for everlasting change while in recovery from addiction. Team sports, music, and art can be great starting points for change as well. 

Exercise is a fundamental part of keeping a healthy lifestyle. Even 30 minutes a day can improve your livelihood. Your body could have gone through immense changes in addiction treatment. Exercise can provide you with more energy and routine to divert your attention from the bottle or syringe.

You’ll also want to journal in order to chronicle your progress over the course of your recovery. Journaling has proven benefits and it would be a welcoming addition to your toolbox to express yourself.

Support groups are another tool at your disposal during addiction recovery. Support groups are moderated with your peers so that you can all share your addiction recovery journeys. Insights gained from support groups can bring a sense of understanding and connectivity to recovering addicts.

Addiction Is a Family Disease

Explaining alcoholism to a child or drug addiction to a child can feel heartbreaking. As a result, you might be considering your options as you embark on the next stage of your recovery. Just remember though that your family and other loved ones can bring a sense of relief when you’re undergoing such a  metamorphosis. The strength that you gain from addiction treatment will also only benefit yourself and those around you.

Here at Florida Center for Recovery, our Family Intensive Therapy is part of the range of therapeutic options we offer to help families recover from addiction. To learn more about our inpatient rehab programs and the therapies and services that they offer, contact us over the phone. You can also visit our online brochure.

References:

https://americanspcc.org/serious-effects-of-substance-addiction-on-parenting/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8104924/

https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/principles-adolescent-substance-use-disorder-treatment-research-based-guide/evidence-based-approaches-to-treating-adolescent-substance-use-disorders/family-based-approaches

exercise and addiction recovery

Exercise and Addiction Recovery

Individuals participating in substance abuse treatment programs often question whether physical exercise is necessary to fully recover from addiction. Realistically, the choice of utilizing exercise for addiction recovery, during and after treatment, is a personal one. However, doing so adds to significantly increased positive outcomes. Because substance abuse inflicts as much damage to the physical body, as it does to the mind, healing both is important. That’s why exercise and addiction recovery should co-occur. 

Exercise for addiction recovery often makes the recovery process easier to maintain both mentally and physically. It serves as an outlet for energy that yields beneficial results and helps to add structure to routine. Although making regular exercise part of the recovery process doesn’t always come naturally, over time it can become a powerful tool. Utilizing every outlet available to reinforce healthy habits, deviates from thoughts and behaviors associated with abusing substances. 

Physical Benefits of Exercise and Addiction Recovery

The link between physical health and emotional wellbeing is irrefutable. With this in mind, addiction treatment benefits from incorporating regular workout sessions that encourage the body to adapt while also increasing endurance. Up until the point of drug rehab, a majority of the decisions that a person entering rehab had made that impacted his or her physical health were often harmful. 

During active substance abuse, the damage sustained through the use of drugs is significant. But even with moderate physical activity, circulatory and neurological function improved tremendously. Exercise and addiction recovery promotes overall physical health while expediting the healing process. 

Psychological Benefits of Exercise and Addiction Recovery

It’s understood that learning how to psychologically cope with challenging situations and triggers is an important skill in recovery. Still, though, recognizing the impact that exercise has on the body’s healing process for overall wellness is paramount in that endeavor. Exercise for addiction recovery is especially helpful for those suffering from co-occurring illnesses

The boost of endorphins that is achieved by even minimal physical exertion boosts mood and cognitive function. Forcing extra oxygen via increased blood flow through the body and brain also heals damage and creates new neurological pathways. 

Individuals suffering from co-occurring disorders such as depression and anxiety can find added relief from their symptoms through exercise. Utilizing the array of recovery options available during treatment, including exercise for addiction recovery, builds a foundation of healthy habits.

One should always consult a physician before starting an exercise regimen, especially in the presence of any medical condition. Several factors could impact the duration or the intensity of the exercise that a person in recovery should be doing. Thus, modifications to exercises sometimes may be required. 

Despite exercise restrictions due to health conditions, individuals do benefit from some sort of exercise in addiction recovery. Regardless of the activity, getting your body moving and having fun doing it, is undoubtedly helpful to a person in recovery’s health.

Exercise Adds Structure To Sober Routines

During inpatient treatment, the structure and schedule of the day is often predetermined and routine. The hours in the day are often filled with therapy and lessons, yet typically there is time allotted for fitness. Take advantage of these opportunities, by trying different things and getting familiar with a fitness routine that works for you. It will be a valuable asset after leaving the residential program. 

After inpatient treatment has been completed, individuals in recovery are going to be responsible for maintaining their own routines. Having an outlet such as going to meetings, exercise, and addiction recovery therapy all contribute to a well-rounded regimen. Whether it is blowing off steam or getting pumped up for the day, exercise and addiction recovery helps maintain stability. 

The comfort of knowing that a workout is always going to be there in times of need can deter relapse. Helping to ward off cravings for addiction-seeking behaviors, by instead replacing substance abuse with good health goals. The structure that exercise provides in people’s lives encourages a smooth transition from inpatient rehab into recovery and toward a long life of sobriety. 

Physical Activity Reduces Severity of Detox and Withdrawal

Getting through drug detox and then staying sober are not easy tasks, especially resisting the urge to ease intense withdrawal. Because of this, any available tools that help deal with those challenges are crucial for finding balance and stability in recovery. Exercise for addiction recovery is usually recommended as the first line of holistic management when having difficulty navigating through detox. 

What’s best about combining exercise and addiction recovery is the relief that can be achieved almost immediately. Overwhelmingly reported as beneficial, physical activities influence withdrawal symptoms by rendering them less painful and less stressful. Thus, at any time, having a fitness routine to turn to, even just a simple walk, prevents derailing treatment progress. 

Leaving treatment equipped with a set of tools to manage stress is the idea.  By combining exercise and addiction recovery, the positive effects that exercise has on both body and mind increase the likelihood of successful recovery. Completing detox is just the beginning. From there on, it is about controlling urges and triggers with coping skills and exercising as a valued tool among them.

The More Energy You Exert The Better You’ll Sleep

While the general mechanics of a workout are to burn calories, exercise for addiction recovery helps to release excess energy. In fact, it functions similar to the emotional release of therapy, but on a physical level. 

Pushing through obstacles to achieve goals is rewarding, and can offer peace of mind. This in turn, contributes to regularly upholding a serene emotional sense, that allows for relaxation and improved sleep. 

Sleep is essential for functioning at optimal levels throughout the day. While abusing substances, this cycle is inevitably disturbed, due to the effects of drugs and alcohol on the circadian rhythm. The circadian rhythm, being the body’s built-in clock, regulates the amount of rest needed to function properly. Incorporating exercise and addiction recovery therapies serves to restore this cycle, which in turn reduces stress by increasing cognitive function. 

Exercise and Elevated Mood

Not only does a high-intensity workout increase endorphins, but the options are almost endless. If one particular type of exercise for addiction recovery doesn’t feel right, there are so many more to experiment with. Some options include solitary training while others are conducted in teams or groups. Like group therapy, community and peer-based exercise activities encourage accountability and responsibility while reinforcing the value of sobriety. 

Many individuals in recovery who were not sure about committing to regular exercise later found the experience exceptionally rewarding. Research even shows that regular workouts help reduce addiction-related withdrawal symptoms and lessen cravings which, in turn, curbs irritability.

Exercise and addiction recovery-based activities prove to be a powerful mood-lifting tool contributing to long-term wellness through sobriety. This is likely due to the endorphins released during exercise that produce similar feelings of satisfaction that once surrounded intoxication. 

The feel-good emotions triggered by an individual’s drug or alcohol abuse closely resembles the rush after a workout. In other words, during and after a vigorous exercise session, recovering individuals get the same kind of euphoric boost that they once abused drugs to get. However, exercise for addiction recovery does this in a healthy way. 

The high that exercise provides people is sometimes referred to as a “runner’s-high.” This explains why exercise can serve as an outlet to dissipate stress and allow people to feel good. Thus, when a recovering individual is feeling the temptation and craving for substance use, he or she can use exercise and addiction recovery tools to ward off relapsing. 

Working Out for Stress Reduction

While for some individuals, a high-intensity exercise for addiction recovery is not practical, there are other ways to participate. Exercise activities such as yoga or walks are recommended and suitable activities for anyone, especially for those with medical restrictions. This is especially true in contrast to the harm that lack of exercise can potentially bring about. 

Sometimes the thought of inducing stress on the body to ease stress on the mind is difficult to accept. However, it is possible to move past this by breaking negative associations and replacing them with beneficial thoughts and behaviors. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is an addiction treatment program designed to do just that. 

During CBT, addicts are able to express their stressful triggers with a professional who will do more than just listen. During CBT therapy, helpful and sober reinforcing associations are developed to replace those of substance abuse. 

Exercise and addiction recovery correlate so successfully, that once these connections are made, they easily become a welcomed routine. Recovering individuals that routinely exercise even benefit from exercising by it relieving the stress associated with the challenges of addiction recovery and sobriety. 

Boosting Self-Esteem Through Progress

Exercise and addiction recovery helps to boost self-esteem. Forming a positive relationship with yourself is an important part of maintaining sobriety, as it requires a level of self-respect that is often abandoned during periods of substance abuse. Exercise for addiction recovery helps to increase a person’s confidence. This, in turn, also helps give that person a more positive mindset. In combination with individual therapy, forward strides can be achieved toward the commitment to sobriety through exercise and addiction recovery. 

Forming a Better Relationships With Others

One of the most difficult hurdles to move past after addiction is the ability to trust others and build relationships. Most often, this struggle with trusting others and building relationships with them is addressed in trauma therapy. This is because such struggles can be a result of having experienced or witnessed significant trauma. Incorporating exercise and addiction recovery therapies by means of group and team activities helps to restore trust in people while also making it easier for people to start building relationships.  

The ability to work as a unit on a team sport or through competition is therapeutic all in itself. Being able to hold yourself and others accountable for responsibilities while working together builds upon strength of character as well. 

Even though addiction recovery is an individual and sometimes private journey, it’s important to know you are not alone. Opting in to exercise for addiction recovery through team activities reinforces the importance of a sober community during recovery.

Ways To Incorporate Exercise in Addiction Recovery

Many people assume that making a commitment to fitness means surrendering all of their time to see the results that come from it. And while doing so is certainly acceptable, setting more realistic health and weight goals relieves that pressure. 

Excessive stress can be counterproductive to relapse prevention. That’s why it’s best to start exercising slowly and work up to each exercise milestone, learning as much as you can along the way. For example, one way to exercise for addiction recovery is to regularly go on 30 minute afternoon or evening walks. That’s just enough to set and keep a pace while allowing other worries to fade away periodically. Essentially any form of exercise that gets the blood pumping and lungs breathing is a good thing to do. 

Keep in mind this doesn’t mean you have to stick with one specific exercise activity. If a specific exercise doesn’t feel right, and the benefits are minimal, move on and find something that you find more enjoyable. Admittedly this can be tricky, but with so many options available, hope will never be lost. 

During rehab, there will likely be several exercise options to choose from and even some people to show you the ropes. Remember, everyone started somewhere, and being a beginner is all a part of the process. 

Exercise and Addiction Recovery Activities

There are a wide variety of exercise and addiction recovery activities. Some of the most common activities that provide exercise and addiction recovery support include:

  • Running/walking
  • Weight lifting
  • Crossfit
  • Hiking
  • Cycling; either stationary or trail
  • Swimming
  • Team sports; basketball, volleyball, softball, hockey, football
  • Yoga or martial arts

Again, this is a very short list among the unlimited possibilities for exercise during addiction recovery. If none of the exercise options above sound fun, there are others to try. If all of the forms of exercise listed above sound interesting, give them all a try and stick with your favorites. Either way, making exercise for addiction recovery a priority only adds to the recovery experience while designing a rewarding sober lifestyle. So while it is not mandatory, exercise during addiction recovery is certainly beneficial and ideal. 

Exercise For Addiction Recovery

The beauty of embracing fitness in any form of exercise is that there’s no “wrong” way to do it. Keep options open and change your exercise when it’s no longer challenging or enjoyable. In fact, adding variety to your exercise to achieve fitness goals is encouraged. It’s even effective against reoccurring, or chronic relapse

Many recovering individuals discover fitness during addiction treatment and never let go of it. This is especially true after experiencing the unique capacity for exercise to exhilarate, relax, and provide stimulation to a person. The calm that often follows exercise becomes something to look forward to as well. Exercise and addiction recovery allows the experience of the mind-body connection that was missing prior to recovery that people often turned to substance use to get. Thus, exercise in addiction recovery can now replace substance abuse. 

Exercising Benefits Addiction Recovery and Overall Health

Exercise is good for you whether you’re in recovery or not. Thus, including it into your recovery can make a meaningful difference in the recovery process. Exercise for addiction therapy is important because of the link between physical health and emotional wellbeing.

At Florida Center for Recovery, we provide the means for our patients to participate in physical sports activities. For example, here at the Florida Center for Recovery, we provide our patients with state-of-the-art exercise equipment at our fitness center. 

Exercise and addiction recovery is an exciting combination. To explore addiction treatment for you or a loved one, connect with us here at Florida Center for Recovery today. 

No matter what form of exercise you choose to do during treatment and recovery, each extra step that’s made during that exercise counts and adds up over time. Besides, to stay sober one needs to care for himself. This includes taking care of the body through exercise. The right fitness routine balances the body, mind, and spirit.

References:

https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/can-exercise-help-conquer-addiction-2018122615641

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2829243/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3276339/

https://www.verywellmind.com/how-exercise-can-help-you-beat-an-addiction-4115857

 

 

 

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