If you use alcohol or other drugs, at some stage or another you may find yourself in trouble with parents, teachers, or even the police. The people around you may blame you for being a reckless risk taker or having a 'flawed personality', or just not seem to understand why you're using drugs.
Having a problem with alcohol or drug use does not necessarily mean that you’re a bad person, just in the same way that someone suffering from depression or anxiety isn’t a bad person because they have a mental health issue.
Why do we blame ourselves?
One of the important jobs of being an adolescent is to start to develop a sense of your own identity, to find out what you stand for and who you are in the world. When others blame you for the negative effects of your drug use, it can undermine your self-esteem, and you may start blaming yourself too. On top of that, many (but not all) young people who have issues with drugs or alcohol, have had painful experiences in the past such as verbal, physical or sexual abuse, or family conflict in which they have been blamed and belittled. This can be expressed as a sense of shame in young people, especially if you have ended up in situations where you acted in a ways you later regretted.
How do I manage blame?
It’s helpful to be aware of negative thought patterns when overcoming feelings of blame. If your mind starts heading off on a downward spiral ask yourself questions like ‘What would I say to a friend who was in this situation?’ or ‘Is this way of thinking bringing me closer to a solution or further away?’ Learning to challenge negative thought patterns can be a helpful tool in all areas of your life, particularly when it comes to blame. Hanging out with family, friends or a trusted adult who gives you positive feedback and encourages your strengths, interests and talents is a great way to build more positive feelings about yourself.
Acceptance and learning to forgive yourself are key in moving beyond blame. Relax your mind and accept the situation that’s in front of you. It’s often in this headspace that you’ll feel at your most capable, open and positive.
Sharing your experiences with people you trust can also be a great coping mechanism, but if you’re feeling overwhelmed by feelings of blame and frustration, it could be time to seek professional help. Call YSASline our 24 hour free YoDAA Line: 1800 458 685 or check out our Programs + Services.