When it comes to the blame game, alcoholics are professionals.

We can blame anyone and anything but ourselves when it comes to the predicaments we find ourselves in and our choices. It’s easier to manipulate reality and shift blame than it is to own up to the fact that every time we pick up a drink, we are choosing to do so. 

It isn’t even a conscious choice to blame others or to blame life circumstances. It’s seemingly part of the nature of being an alcoholic. As someone who drank and blamed everyone and everything but myself, I have some insight into why an alcoholic chooses to operate this way. The following are potential reasons we try so hard to shift blame.

We’re embarrassed.

I was often mortified about my actions and the choices I made while under the influence. For some reason, admitting that the situation was fully my own fault made it even more embarrassing. So instead of taking ownership of my actions, I blamed the breakup I had just gone through or the way my antidepressant interacted with alcohol. The reasoning behind my actions was never simply because I had a problem with alcohol. I always convinced myself (and tried to convince everyone else) that there was more to it than that.

If we take the blame, that means something has to change.

For me, this reason was a huge factor in never wanting to blame myself for the situations I got into while drinking. If I admitted that I was responsible for my actions, that would mean something in my life would have to change. But I wasn’t ready to stop drinking, so I wasn’t about to admit to anything being my fault. I did whatever I could to continue drinking, and often that meant blaming others and blaming situations.

We really, truly don’t believe our addiction is a problem.

Part of active addiction is denial, which means an addict thinks he or she does not have a problem. Active addicts see alcohol or drugs as the solution. They rely on them as medicine to treat their emotional ills and get them through each day. Any suggestion that alcohol or drugs are the problem is unbearable because it challenges that assumption. It’s difficult to take the blame for something when your mind is thoroughly convinced that it is not your fault.

In short, alcoholics can only stop blaming others once they admit to having a problem. In my experience, admitting this showed me where the blame really should have been (myself). I did what I could to readjust my thinking and remind myself that I am ultimately in control of my own actions and choices.

Medical Disclaimer: The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.

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