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Should I Feel Guilty That I'm Leaving My Children To Get Help For Substance Use?

You Should Not Feel Guilty For Fixing Your Own Life

Should I Feel Guilty That I'm Leaving My Children To Get Help For Substance Use?Some parents especially those with young children, feel guilty that they are getting help for substance use. However, this shouldn’t be the cause because you're helping yourself and in turn providing a better future for your children, whether that is through mental, emotional or financial improvement. Forms of emotional guilt are also another excuse some people use as a reason to use alcohol and drugs. It is very important to understand the feeling of guilt before leaving your family to attend a substance use program.

What Is Guilt?

Guilty feelings arise when an individual does something they personally judge is wrong. After experiencing guilt, one might immediately fix the offending behavior and move on. Sometimes guilt is quickly forgotten or ignored but persists until the behavior is addressed, or we choose to repeat guilt-inducing situations before deciding to change the offending behavior such as continued substance use.

Guilt is a natural emotion designed to tell you to stop an offensive choice or behavior. When you listen to your emotions with clarity and maturity you can decide to stop the behavior or choices that cause guilty feelings. This is the productive use of guilt: it can motivate positive change in one’s life. You can, of course, also choose to avoid remedying the situation and leave it to fester. This decision to avoid responsibility for our behaviors and choices can transform the original emotion of guilt into a deeper, more painful form of long-term shame.

Obviously, productive episodes of guilt exist. But this comes with a very important warning. Guilt can only be classified as a productive motivator when you are willing to correct the behaviors that cause it. Guilt is an emotion that exists to help you steer your life away from hurtful scenarios. Productive guilt is simply guilt feelings that are valid (because we have done something to create these legitimate feelings), and those feelings can then motivate positive change in ourselves and the world around us.

Sometimes guilt can be based on a fairly important, large-scaled mistake we have made, like an affair, embezzling from work, or stealing from our loved ones or neighbors. All of these guilty behaviors can be stopped and rectified through a process of true amends. It does not have to be a small situation with little consequence to have a productive outcome in the end.

Leaving your children to get help for substance use can be another added source of stress but if it will help you resolve an alcohol or drug problem that is what will be necessary to get things done. You will need to think of the positive outcomes of leaving a substance use problem in the past. Not only will you be a better parent, you will be able to give them the future they desire.


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