Having “The Talk” With Your Family about Addiction Treatment

Addictions Content Team Info icon
Calendar icon Last Updated: 09/16/2021

Reading Time: 2 minutes

The decision to enter addiction treatment often comes with much pain and indecision. It takes a considerable amount of fortitude to push through the hold that drugs (or alcohol) exert in your life.

Having the talk with your family about your decision can be difficult as well. How to tell the kids, how to tell your spouse, how to tell your parents and wondering whether they even need to know are all questions that need answers.

In effect, having the talk with family benefits you just as much as it benefits your family in terms of the healing process that begins once everything is out in the open.

The Family Dynamic

Whenever a family member falls prey to the effects of addiction, the family dynamic in terms of how members interact and communicate with one another changes. It’s not uncommon for a loved one’s addiction to become the family secret, which inevitably affects communications as far as what topics are “safe” to talk about.

During the course of addiction, the degree of mounting confusion you experience transfers over to loved ones as addiction naturally breeds erratic behaviors and emotions in the addict. Having the talk with family members marks the first step towards overcoming the effects of addiction on you and your loved ones.

Talking with Your Parent, Spouse or Significant Other

While what you’re doing is a good thing, your significant other or parent may not receive the news so well depending on how well-versed they are on addiction in general. For this reason, relaying the objective facts of the matter rather than getting into a debate offers the best way to proceed when having the talk.

Emphasizing your need for treatment help in light of addiction’s negative effects in your life should remain the focus of the discussion.

Age-Appropriate “Talks” with the Kids

While it can be just as easy not to tell the kids. A child’s sense of self esteem and safety often suffers in the presence of addiction’s harmful effects. Having the talk may well clear up any emotional confusion kids have experienced along the way. For these reasons, it’s important to talk with teenagers and young children in such a way that they can understand what you’ve been going through and the need for seeking treatment help.

With young kids, casting addiction as an illness that needs to be treated can help their understanding. With a teenager, it’s important to be honest and straightforward using examples from his or her experience of addiction’s effects in the home to explain why you’ve chosen to enter addiction treatment.


Having the talk with your family will likely bring up feelings of shame, remorse and embarrassment for both you and individual family members. What’s most important at this point is your decision to follow-through, so brace yourself for any negative feedback that comes your way.