Families facing the problem of addiction in a loved one want to do everything possible to help. The desire comes from a place of caring and concern, but more often than not, help translates into control. When parents or siblings discover they cannot control the behavior of another person, even a person close to them, resentments begin to build. The family dynamics turn into a “would’a, could’a, should’a” hamster wheel of guilt and blame as everyone struggles to find a solution. The inner dialogue of guilt goes something like this:
- “I would have gone to pick her up at the bar so she wouldn’t drink and drive, but I thought she could handle it.”
- “I could have given him some money so he wouldn’t have been evicted from his apartment for not paying rent on time.”
- “I should have been more aware of her bizarre and irresponsible behavior; I had no idea she was abusing drugs.
Guilt and Blame Common In Dynamics Of Addiction
In some cases, the “would’a, could’a, should’a” blame game erupts into a round-robin of family accusations, such as this:
- “I would have stopped using drugs and getting drunk, but you just never got off my back.”
- “You could have stopped drinking if you really wanted to; you just don’t care about me or anyone else in the family.”
- “You should have come home when you knew your father was drunk and abusive. How can you leave me alone to deal with this?”
Guilt and blame are hallmarks of the turmoil addiction creates within the family structure. The only way out of the “would’a, could’a, should’a” cycle is allowing the logical consequences of addictive behavior to occur. Allowing a loved one to suffer does not come easily. Letting go of a situation beyond our control does not come naturally. Support for families dealing with the chaos caused by drugs or alcohol is available through substance abuse treatment centers and support groups.