Summer Celebrations Can Turn Deadly for Children of Families Touched by Addiction

The Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation reminds families to remain aware of the dangers addiction poses to children.

CENTER CITY, MINN., (June 16, 2016) - Summer provides us with many reasons to celebrate, which oftentimes means consumption of liquor and other inebriating substances. For children of those suffering from addiction, summer can be especially difficult as they watch family members or relatives descend into unpredictable behavior, mood swings and seclusion.  
"We often overlook the true victims of addiction - the children," says Jerry Moe, National Director Children's Programs at the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation. "Kids suffer silently as parents and siblings become distant, hostile and non-responsive. Children lack the skills to understand the disease and its effects on the family."

For decades, The Betty Ford Center, part of the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation, has administered counseling to children of adults suffering from addiction. At its regional centers in Dallas, Denver and Rancho Mirage, California, counselors assist children with how to identify and express their feelings, develop self-care skills, and deepen communication with parents.

"They gave me my son back.  I thought I was going to lose him."
- Denise C., Denver.

How the Children's Program works

The program features a balanced blend of learning, playing and growing. Children ages 7-12 learn about addiction in an age-appropriate way, share feelings, develop a variety of coping and self-care skills and build upon their strengths and intrinsic worth. Just as importantly, the program provides the opportunity for children to be kids, as recreational and other fun activities are included in the program.

Helping children to learn that it's not their fault and they are not to blame allows them to become kids again. Research clearly shows that addiction tends to run in families so children from alcoholic and other drug addicted families are at high risk. Empowering these kids with healthy living skills is truly prevention in its purest form.

No child is ever turned away due to an inability to pay. Up to 90% receive financial assistance to cover costs.

"Alcoholism and drug addiction are family diseases, so we treat the whole family, including the kids," says Moe. "Children of those suffering from addiction have a greater chance to develop an addiction as adults. This program acts as a barrier to the future progress of this disease."

About the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation

The Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation helps people reclaim their lives from the disease of addiction. It is the nation's largest nonprofit treatment provider, with a legacy that began in 1949 and includes the 1982 founding of the Betty Ford Center. With 16 sites in California, Minnesota, Oregon, Illinois, New York, Florida, Massachusetts, Colorado and Texas, the Foundation offers prevention and recovery solutions nationwide and across the entire continuum of care for youth and adults. It includes a specialized program for legal professionals, the largest recovery publishing house in the country, a fully-accredited graduate school of addiction studies, an addiction research center, an education arm for medical professionals and a unique children's program, and is the nation's leader in advocacy and policy for treatment and recovery.

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