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Is it my fault?

It is not unusual for families to wonder if they did something to cause their loved one to abuse substances.

Parents, in particular, may worry about this and feel regret or even guilt about their parenting.

It is important to remember that, whatever the situation, the individual is responsible for their own choices and behaviour. You may encourage them to make better choices, but you cannot make someone else change. It is up to the individual to make the choice and take action to stop this substance misuse.

Likewise, families, friends and carers are responsible for their own actions. You cannot control your loved one’s behaviour, but you can choose how you respond to it. Families can influence the users behaviour, for example: By ‘enabling’ the user.

This might mean giving them money, paying their debts, accepting blame for their addiction, or lying or covering up for the individual when they behave unacceptably.

This allows the user to continue to their substance misuse and behave badly without facing any consequences or accepting any responsibility.

Alternatively, by supporting the user by enforcing clear boundaries, families and friends can demonstrate they still love the individual but do not accept their behaviour.

Getting help from others

Many families seek support from others who have been in the same situation and understand what they are going through. Support groups are a very good way to connect with others and support each other.

“You tend to blame yourself… I came to this group and felt so much relief that it wasn’t my fault”

SMART Support Group member

You might also find our Boundary Agreement self help tool useful.