How Do I Tell My Children I’m Going to Rehab?

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Making the decision to pursue rehab and to embrace recovery is one of the best things you’ll ever do. It will also be one of the toughest. One challenge is telling the people you know and love about your choice—and in particular, telling your children.

It’s important to be honest with your kids, of course, but you also need to be intentional in the way you convey the information. You want to make sure you’re being age-appropriate, candid, sensitive, and hopeful, all at once. That’s a tough balancing act, but here are some tips that can help you find your footing:

  • Don’t mislead your kids. You can be age-appropriate without lying or speaking in euphemisms. You may not feel your kids are old enough to hear all the details about your struggle with addiction, but telling them you’re just going on vacation isn’t the right solution.
  • Make it clear to your kids that it’s not their fault you struggle with addiction. Reassure them. Let them know that what you’re dealing with is a disease, and it’s not because of their actions.
  • Encourage your kids with the knowledge that you’re seeking help to get better!
  • Educate your kids about what addiction is. Again, make sure they know that it’s a real, mental health condition. Also use this as a teachable moment, advising them about the dangers of substance abuse.
  • Make sure to get your kids the support they need; if you feel like they need to speak with a therapist, by all means arrange it for them.

Kids are strong and resilient, and you may be surprised by how supportive your own little ones can be. Even so, it’s important that you speak with them in the right way—honestly, openly, and sensitively.


  1. National Institute on Drug Abuse, What to Do If You Have a Problem with Drugs: For Teens and Young Adults. Accessed March 26, 2016.
  2. Health Direct, Drug and Alcohol Rehabilitation. Accessed March 17, 2016.
  3. Department of Rehabilitation, California Department of Rehabilitation, Accessed March 13,  2016.
  4. Department of Rehabilitation, What Does DOR Do? Accessed March 5, 2016.
  5., Healthcare and Medical Assistance. Accessed March 28, 2016.
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