By Cheryl Steinberg
We’ve written many an article on the excuses addicts and alcoholics use to cover up or justify their addictions; this is an article about how others make excuses for their addicted loved ones. Also an example of enabling, codependents often end up sucked into the world of their addicted family member, friend, child, or significant other and that is why alcoholism and, by extension, addiction, are considered to be a ‘family disease.’ That is, it doesn’t only affect the person in the grips of active addiction – everyone who is in relationship with that person – especially their close loved ones – is affected and often leads to codependency. Here are some ways in which we justify others’ addictions as well as how to stop making excuses for your addicted loved one.
Blaming the Significant Other
Often times, especially when it comes to a son or daughter who is in active addiction, people will blame their significant other for the child’s using. It might be that addiction runs on one side of the family and thus one parent will blame the other, basically for their genes. Another way in which parents blame each other is that one is ready to say ‘no’ to the child while the other one is the obvious enabler. This dynamic, as you can imagine, causes a rift in the relationship of the parents.
If it’s the significant other who struggles with addiction, their spouse will be quick to blame them for their disease, as is often the case with addiction. The negative stigma that continues to follow addiction is that it is the person’s fault and that they just need to exercise will power in order to overcome this medical condition. Studies of the brain as well as genetics actually have shown that addiction is a brain disorder that affects as many as 1 in 3 people.
The codependent will often want to blame other people for their loved one’s addiction. It might be their friends or their coworkers that they place the blame with. I know for me, my mother wanted to blame my then-boyfriend for my drug addiction. And, although things certainly got kicked into high gear when I was with him, my substance abuse began well before I ever met the guy.
It’s true that, when we get clean and sober, we must change people, places, and things but, it’s not those three things that solely contributed to our addiction. As mentioned above, alcohol and drug addiction are recognized as chronic medical conditions for which specialized treatment is often required, as well as significant lifestyle changes, in order to bolster success at recovery.
Blaming Life Circumstances
It may be that the loved one has suffered great tragedy in their lifetime, such as the loss of a loved one, or it might be that they were the victim of trauma or abuse. And yet, it may also be that they suffer with a psychological condition such as a mood disorder, like depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder. Or, as often is the case with addicts and alcoholics, they might have even experienced all or a combination of these. People in a codependent relationship with an addict will make excuses for their loved one’s using because they’ve “had a hard life.”
How to Stop Making Excuses for Your Addicted Loved One
There are probably tons of other excuses that people make on behalf of their loved ones and theirsubstance abusing behaviors. What’s important is to recognize whether you are justifying their addictions and therefore enabling them to keep using. There’s a saying among the recovery community that says enabling your loved one is like loving them to death. You must realize that addiction is a serious – and potentially fatal – condition.
In order to stop making excuses, get educated on what they’re going through. Check out support groups, such as Al-Anon, Nar-Anon, and Family Anonymous that offer free meetings where you can learn from others who are in your position as well as gather helpful information and resources.
Be informed. You can research information on addiction and addiction treatment online. There are articles on how to talk to your loved one about their addiction as well as resources, such as people who can help you stage an intervention.
Speak with professionals in the field of addiction and addiction treatment. You may want to consider individual and family therapy with one of these specialists. These are all ways in which you can learn how to stop making excuses for your addicted loved one.
If you are concerned about a family member or other loved one that is struggling with substance abuse and addiction, help is readily available. Call toll-free 1-800-951-6135 to speak directly with an Addiction Specialist for questions and resources. We are available 24/7. Remember, you are not alone.