From Blame to Responsibility: Shifting Our Perspective On Those with Addiction


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From the outside looking in, it may seem that your loved one’s addiction is a testament to their character, lack of will, laziness, and more. Each person’s situation is different – and if you’ve been lied to, stolen from, and drained from your loved one’s addiction, it’s understandable that you may feel anger, regret, resentment, and sadness. Watching a loved one struggle with something out of our control can be devastating on a number of levels – sometimes we give them everything we can, just to feel let down over and over again. If this is where you’re at right now, allow yourself to feel these emotions. Therapy – both individually and in support groups such as Al-Anon – could be great resources for you as you navigate this journey. As you uncover more puzzle pieces to the complex nature of addiction, it’s important that you consider shifting your perspective from that of blame to responsibility.

When a loved one has an addiction, it’s easy to want to question how they got to this point. “How could they have let themselves stoop this low?” you may ask yourself. While it may not make sense right now, many people who develop an addiction begin by starting off with something they feel will ease the pain they’re experiencing. Whether it be physical or mental, self-medication may consist of drugs or alcohol to help numb certain feelings that a person feels are unbearable – these could be feelings of depression, loneliness, anger, resentment, worthlessness, and more. This isn’t always the case, but for many, it is. Rather than blaming yourself or your loved one, the best step you can take is to hold yourself and your loved one accountable for what each of you are responsible for – your own actions.

As a 2017 article published in the journal Neuroethics emphasizes, a responsibility without blame framework promotes reflection, change, and recovery; if your loved one is currently in treatment, adopting this perspective means that you are giving them the agency to understand and accept the actions they’ve exhibited and the consequences of those actions – including harm to others – as well as giving them the agency to move forward with their recovery journey. This goes for you as well. Don’t blame yourself for your loved one’s addiction. If you feel you’ve contributed to your loved one’s distress in some way, work on this through family therapy at their treatment center. Responsibility will always promote growth and transformation over blame. Remember that.

Simple Recovery is a world-renowned, California state-licensed substance abuse recovery center. We offer dual diagnosis treatment, so if you are experiencing both substance abuse and symptoms of a mental disorder, call us today at 888-743-0490 so that we can work with you to restore your happiness, health, and well-being. You do not have to continue living this way; there are many people here ready to help you.