How to tell my husband's 13 y/o that he is in rehab without ex-wife taking advantage of the situation?



My husband has just recently entered into a 30 day (or possibly more) program to get help for pill addiction. What started off as treating back pain, soon became an opiate addiction introducing benzos into the mix when opiates couldn’t be obtained…

Long story short, he has a greedy, vindictive ex wife who shares custody of their 13 y/o. Me, being the step-parent was alerted to the 13 y/o having some concerns about “daddy” acting weird sometimes… it was shared that “daddy” has some back pain and is not taking his medication at the right time (well NO Kidding right!?) Anyway, wanting to be honest without being too open, but more-so wanting to protect their relationship for when HE can actually discuss with the child about the situation. I don’t want the information from the child to be misconstrued to the ex-wife/mother, but also do NOT want to give the ex-wife/mother ANY ammunition to be used against him.

Struggling with the fact that he needs to face the reality of his actions and accept whatever the ex-wife does (or can do legally) but also protecting my step-child’s relationship with him due to the fact that the ex-wife/mother already takes every opportunity to bad talk him to the child.

Any advice? Thoughts? Suggestions?


Thanks for sharing with us here @CMB104 - has there been any change in the situation or any conversations since you posted?

Firstly, my suggestion is to trust your gut, you know the figures in the relationships and likely have an instinct as to what is best. Then taking that as your foundation force, and then consider where you can be truthful and how you can educate the others around your loved one. I like to, where possible, normalize substance use disorders because though they are something to handle sensitively, they are not uncommon, and we can help others understand that they are understandable. When thinking about educating others sensitively, using science and compassion you might find these particular guides and resources useful: Science of Addiction & Your Role, plus Skills to talk about Addiction & Recovery

Also it’s so admirable that your partner has entered treatment to get help through this, and sounds like that was actioned pretty quickly too which is not always the case. I would definitely consider making sure that anyone you do communicate with about this knows that it is admirable to be seeking professional help and also that there are well known successful medication assisted treatments for long term opiate use disorder management.

Love to hear more from others in our community who’ve had to talk to little ones about what’s going on with a loved one’s substance use treatment.

And I’m hoping to hear more examples of using it as a compassionate educational moment!