If there’s one thing substance abusers and their families do well, it’s playing the blame game. Addicts blame life situations and other people as a way of justifying their out-of-control drinking or drug use.

If you had a spouse like mine, you would drink, too.”

“I have too much stress on my job; my employer hovers over me, and I find relief by taking pills to relax.”

“If we could live in a different neighborhood without so much temptation all around, I could quit using and drinking.”

Family members and friends blame the substance abuser for their own reactions.

“I wouldn’t be so exhausted if I didn’t have to spend so much time cleaning up after the addict.”

“I would be able to enjoy my friends if I weren’t always on edge about what the alcoholic might say or do.”

“I am so ashamed of the addict’s behavior that I cannot bear to go anywhere, so I’m stuck at home.”

Excuses like these place blame everywhere except where it belongs – squarely on the shoulders of each individual involved.

Pointing the finger

A common adage goes like this: “If I have one finger pointing at you, I have three pointing back at myself.”

It describes perfectly what happens in the family dysfunction created by addiction. Addicts and their family members need take responsibility for themselves and their own behavior if recovery is going to happen. In fact, some professionals theorize that one can become addicted to blame and correspondingly feeling like a victim. In order to stop the blame-victim-rescuer cycle, everyone involved needs to make a commitment to solutions and to recovery. It’s hard work. It involves each person’s acceptance of his own contribution to the problems. A close look inward can be painful, but the end result is clearer communication and hope for healthy family dynamics.

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