In this guest blog post, Toby LeBlanc, LPC shares five feelings that can be generated by family members of those who are using or are in recovery.
The effects of addiction don’t occur just to the person who is using. The disorderliness and pain can have far ranging effects like ripples in a pool. Many of these ripples can be felt in families. Here are 5 common negative feelings you as a family member can feel when your loved one is using or in recovery.
Guilt: Families feel they should have done something sooner or, worse, believe they are the cause. Make no mistake, though. The responsibility for recovery is on the addict. They need to take it personally.
Sadness: It is hard to watch a person struggle with such pain. Especially a person you care so much about. You are allowed to feel as sad as you want about everything that has happened including what has happened to you.
Anger: “How could he do this?” “She’s so selfish!” These may be thoughts which cross your mind as you find out all the actions your loved one engaged in while using. You are not wrong for thinking these thoughts. Just be careful if you decide to act on them.
Confusion: Addiction is hard to make sense of. Trying to figure it out may lead to more confusion. It’s best to accept that some things can’t be explained right now. The only explanation sometimes is living through it.
Anxiety: “Could this happen again?” “Who else could this happen to?” Addiction makes us look for the wolf around the corner. No one wants to go through that mess again. What starts as caution could turn into something much worse. Worry all you want, but tomorrow will bring what it brings. When it comes to addiction, try and take care of just you and your loved one today. Tomorrow will take care of itself.
No feeling is wrong. The way we deal with our feelings, however, can produce negative results. You as a family member deserve support too. You can find it just about anywhere: clergy/ministers, friends, other family, Al-Anon, and mental health professionals. Many of these people could be waiting for you to reach out.