'Sesame Street' Addresses Opioid Crisis As Muppet Karli Reveals Mom Is a Recovering Addict

Sesame Street is addressing the opioid crisis in a way that children can understand—with new Muppet Karli revealing in a new online-only segment that her mom is a recovering addict.

In a clip released Wednesday as part of Sesame Street's outreach project Sesame Street in Communities, Karli reveals to Elmo and human Chris that her mom is at a recovery meeting.

Chris explains to Elmo that Karli's mom has been "having a hard time" and goes to meetings to "help her get better." The segment uses language that is easy to understand for Sesame Street's young demographic.

Bright-green Muppet Karli tells Elmo that "my mom needs help learning to take better care of herself so she talks to people with the same problem."

Karli also explains that she goes to meetings for children whose "parents all have the same problem."

In another segment, Karli meets a young girl called Salia whose "mom and dad have the same problem as my mom—addiction."

"When my mom was having a hard time I had lots of big feelings, I felt like I was the only one. But now I've met other kids like Salia and we can talk about it together," Karli says, introducing a clip of Salia, 10, talking about her parents' addiction.

"Addiction is a sickness, addiction is getting attracted to something so you keep doing it over and over again. It makes people feel like they need drugs and alcohol to feel OK," explains Salia.

"Addiction is often seen as a 'grown-up' issue, but it impacts children in ways that aren't always visible. Having a parent battling addiction can be one of the most isolating and stressful situations young children and their families face," said Sherrie Westin, president of social impact and philanthropy at Sesame Workshop, in a statement. "Sesame Street has always been a source of comfort to children during the toughest of times, and our new resources are designed to break down the stigma of parental addiction and help families build hope for the future."

The socially-charged storyline is just Sesame Workshop's latest to tackle big issues that might affect children. "For everything we've done—from military families to homelessness—it's all about how to make children free to talk and to give parents the tools to do just that. They tend to avoid it and it's what they need more than anything," Westin told The Associated Press.

Karli—voiced by Haley Jenkins—was introduced in May as part of Sesame Street's efforts to educate children about foster care. Karli first appeared in the care of her foster parents Dalia and Clem, and now viewers will learn why she was in care.

Sesame Street released segments to support both children in foster care and their foster parents to facilitate positive relationships.

Sesame Street opioid addiction
Karli and Elmo. Zach Hyman/Sesame Workshop
'Sesame Street' Addresses Opioid Crisis As Muppet Karli Reveals Mom Is a Recovering Addict | Culture