When you found out that a family member was using prohibited drugs, how did you react to the situation? Did you speak to them on the risks of drug abuse? Did you lash out and cry? Or were you so stunned that you did not know what to do?
It’s normal to experience a variety of extreme feelings and have plenty of concerns. Anyone who is in this type of situation can feel mixed emotions, including guilt, anxiety, confusion, disbelief, apprehension, and anger. Blaming yourself will not help resolve the situation. But thoughts like ‘I should have done something’ or ‘It’s all my fault’ may creep into your mind.
These emotions can seem frustrating and distressing. This is why it is essential to understand methods of ‘sitting with them’ rather than avoiding them or instantly acting on them. By identifying these emotions, you can find ways of sifting through them to a place where you can provide useful assistance to your family.
It can be a very emotional situation. However, asking yourself questions such as ‘Will this reaction support the person involved?’ or ‘Is this thinking helping me to be supportive?’ helps you tremendously.
Emotions You Will Be Feeling
In a situation wherein a loved one indulges in drugs, feeling angry for at the person is inevitable. You may be upset and may ask lots of questions on how and why the person has done it. Keep in mind that anger often covers other strong feelings of hurt and loss. You may experience irritation because you believe your life has been impacted in so many aspects. Aside from your family member who is using drugs, your feelings of anger may also be directed to the dealer, other users, or even to friends and relatives.
The feeling of fear can cause you to anticipate the worst outcome. It is a feeling that can cause you to predict the most difficult situation possible. It can promote thoughts such about your loved one dying or cops knocking on your door. However, fear can also prompt you to do things that protect you and your loved one, particularly if you have been exposed to violent behavior.
Another emotion you may feel is guilt. Guilt includes blaming yourself for your loved one’s drug use. It can be agonizing as you take some time thinking of what you could have done differently.
Guilt can be felt especially when the family member involved is your child or partner, or someone whom you keep a close relationship with.
Another powerful emotion is shame. When you feel shameful about a loved one who is using drugs, you may think you need to keep things secret, telling no one else – not even your close relative and friends. You may prefer to isolate yourself or cover up negative behavior shown by the person involved against other people to hide your feelings.
Anxiety and helplessness
Anxiety makes you a little clouded and may lead you to feel confused about what to do, where to go, or who to ask for help. This feeling can make reflecting and thinking relatively challenging. You may experience helplessness, trapped in a scenario that you don’t know how to modify.
Denial is also a common emotion in a scenario where a loved one is engaged in destructive behavior. It is when you believe there’s been an error. You may have a difficult time accepting that truth and tell yourself that the drugs do not belong to your family member. You may think of so many excuses on behalf of your family member, not wanting to claim and deal with the real situation.
Sadness and grief
These emotions correspond with a sense of lost opportunities for the individual or the loss of the relationship that you previously had with them. The goals and desires that you had for your child or friend may seem damaged. Often people say, ‘I just want the ‘old’ individual back’ or ‘I just want the family as the way it used to be.’
Communicate Your Emotions
It is crucial to recognize that drug use will harm all members of the family. Although these feelings are prevalent, it is essential to note that every family member is unique, and each one will respond differently. It helps to have open communication about your feelings and to have someone outside of the family to talk to.
If you are able to share your feelings with other people, it would be taking the burden that you are feeling and help you decide on things with a clear mind.