There are so many stigmas around addiction that it’s almost no wonder so many addicts hide it or are in denial. One of the biggest stigmas, and potentially the most damaging, is addiction blame. Whether it’s the addict blaming themselves or others victim blaming, learn why “who’s to blame?” is the last question we should be asking when it comes to addiction.
The Stats on Addiction Treatment
In 2017, an estimated 20.7 million people age 12 and older needed treatment for a substance use disorder according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Yet, only 4 million people actually received treatment, or about 19 percent of those who needed it. What’s more, of those who did not receive treatment for substance use, only 1 million, or 5.7 percent of them felt they needed it at all.
The Addiction Blame Game
Of course, no one intends to become an addict, but it’s human nature to want to know why it happens. And when it comes to addiction, that why often comes with a helping of blame. Society suggests addiction is a choice made by bad, weak-willed or immoral people, particularly when it’s those addicted to illegal drugs. Family and friends of addicts may blame circumstance or each other. Addicts may blame it on their personality, their doctor, a bad relationship or any number of other setbacks in life. In reality, there’s no one thing to blame – anyone can become an addict – so it’s important to focus that energy on the path to healing instead.
No Really, What Causes Addiction?
While blaming isn’t helpful, research has found some factors that could put you more at risk for this complex and chronic disease. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the more risk factors a person has, the greater the chance of addiction:
- Biology – The genes you are born with account for about half of your risk for addiction. Gender, ethnicity and the presence of other mental disorders also influence your risk.
- Environment – Things such as peer pressure, physical and sexual abuse, trauma, stress and parental guidance affect a person’s likelihood of drug use and addiction.
- Development – Addiction can occur at any age. However the earlier you begin to use, the more likely it is to progress to addiction because areas of the brain that control judgement and self-control are still developing.
What’s more, differences in the brain are both a cause and effect of addiction. Brain imaging studies have shown that there are neurobiological differences in people who become addicted compared to those who don’t become addicted. And prolonged use changes the structure and function of the brain, making it difficult to control impulses, to feel pleasure in the absence of the substance and to focus on anything other than using.
Instead of Addiction Blame
Recovery isn’t as simple as exercising the right amount of willpower. It will likely be one of the most challenging journeys your family will face. That’s why the dangers of blame are so important to avoid:
- It can keep people trapped in their addiction by providing a justification for further substance abuse.
- It encourages a host of negative emotions that prevent people from thinking clearly.
- It takes the focus away from recovery.
Instead of addiction blame, try:
- Getting more information about substance misuse and addiction to give you a better idea of what your loved one is going through and the type of help that might be available.
- Showing support. This can be as simple as telling them you care for them and you’re worried and want them to get help to staging an intervention.
- Staying involved throughout the treatment process and let your loved one know you’re available if they find themselves in a rough spot or if they just need someone to lean on.
- Reassuring your loved one that their experience with addiction doesn’t make you think less of them.
A Partner in Recovery
Our goal is to provide a compassionate and customized approach to recovery. We do this by offering you the expertise and guidance of our master’s level clinical team and a Trauma-Informed Responsive Intervention™ that has been proven to result in better long-term recovery and healing for patients and their families. What’s more, we provide six months of case management for each client to help your family navigate the recovery journey.
For more information on our addiction treatment services, call 800-335-0316 or email firstname.lastname@example.org today.