During the week of February 12-18, Oklahoma joins the international campaign to bring awareness to the epidemic of children living with addiction in their homes. Children of Addiction Awareness Week, sponsored by the National Association for Children of Addiction (NACoA) in more than nine countries worldwide, includes statewide efforts by nonprofit organization Peaceful Family Oklahoma (PFO).

According to the Oklahoma Policy Institute, Oklahomans struggle with addiction at staggering rates, with an increase in drug overdose deaths of 91% from 2003-2018. Since the pandemic, the number has continued to rise with methamphetamine and fentanyl as the leading substances. One-in-four children is growing up in a household with addiction. Without support, they are eight-times more likely to develop an addiction themselves. Peaceful Family Oklahoma encourages Oklahomans to join efforts to bring children of addiction the help, hope and healing needed to break the cycle of addiction.

 “Kids and teens can heal from the impact of addiction in their families with the right support and services,” Lisa Reed, President and Executive Director of PFO said. “By bringing awareness, we hope to reduce the stigma, help children know they are not alone, addiction it is not their fault and there are safe people who can help. Just like cancer or heart disease, addiction does not depend on education level, income or religion. And no one is naturally equipped to cope with the addiction of someone they deeply love, especially our youngest Oklahomans.”

While recovery programs focus on the person with the disease of addiction, Peaceful Family Oklahoma is focused on the children who need support when families struggle with addiction. Their free evidence-based, peer-to-peer, trauma-informed program was developed to help kids and teens learn about the disease of addiction and works to remove shame and guilt. Kids gain healthy tools to identify and cope with their emotions. Family members living in recovery can heal their relationship with their children. In response to the need, PFO expanded to serve children from ages 4-18 and is now offering an in-school program. “We can become a model for other states. We can do that by talking about addiction openly, learning more about the disease and being a “safe person” for a child who needs a caring adult.”   

Six Ways You Can Make a Difference (from NPR/KOSU)

NPR Life Kit: "Helping a Child Whose Parent Is Struggling With Addiction"

1. Be caring and consistent (and don't pry).

2. Remember: children love their parents (even if they've said or done terrible things). 

3. Remind them (repeatedly) it's not their fault.

4. Look beyond a child's behavior (instead ask 'why').

5. Help kids learn to deal with their emotions (in a healthy way). 

6. Let kids be kids. (Encourage silliness!)

FREE WEBINAR: What the Trauma of COAs as Taught us about Resilience: How Caring Adults Can Help! Wednesday, February 15th at 12:30 pm CST https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_4xOOq_cdRq6ptdSAnw_iVA?eType=EmailBlastContent&eId=8d589eeb-6e3f-49af-a1d9-c2450e2cc980