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How to Disclose My Child’s Addiction With Confidence and Compassion

When you have a child or loved one who enters rehab, you eventually have to tell those closest to you about his or her addiction. This can create personal stress for you, which is understandable. In fact, many people in this situation report feeling emotions such as:

  • Embarrassment
  • Resentment that they have to be the one to reveal the “family secret.”
  • Concern that their family member will not stick with recovery and will relapse after the rehab is over.
  • Concern that disclosing this information could lead to loss of your friend’s support.
  • Worry that your loved one will be angry when they find out you disclosed their addiction

How to Tell Your Family Your Son, Daughter or Spouse Is an Addict

Even though it can be emotional to tell someone about your family member’s addiction, not all emotions related to disclosure are negative. It’s also common to feel great relief and joy in being free from the burden of keeping the addiction from people in your life. It even opens the door for others to talk with you about their own “family secrets,” which can mean incredible support for every person involved. You might be reassured to learn that others have gone through the exact same struggle you’re experiencing.

If you’re considering disclosing a child or parent’s addiction, try some of these tips:

  • Do it at the appropriate time. Set aside plenty of time to talk in a private area where you can all feel comfortable. Don’t disclose it at a party, holiday gathering or when the other person cannot talk.
  • Be prepared to answer questions. Your relatives and friends will want to ask you questions about what’s happening. Although you can’t expect to have a reply for everything, try to anticipate some of the inquiries you might get.
  • Expect that you might get more emotional than you anticipated. Disclosing your loved one’s addiction can be full of anxiety, but this anxiety may come out in ways you can’t predict. Some people start to get sad, while others may become angry. Remember that there is no wrong reaction.
  • Don’t be defensive if your family or friends say something inappropriate or prejudiced. Remember that this is a difficult time for them, too. However, there’s no reason to listen to anything hateful about your son, daughter or parent who is in rehab.
  • Accept support if it’s offered to you. Don’t pretend that you aren’t hurting. You need help, too. If the people you talk to offer their support, take them up on those offers.

If you want to know more about how to tell your family that your son or loved one is an addict, you can work with your relative’s rehab center for guidance. At Clarity Way, we can provide you with additional resources and ways to ease the disclosure for you and those who are hearing about rehab for the first time. Contact us today!


Posted on June 11th, 2015 in Help Blog


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