Because addiction is such a complex disease, it’s not easy to understand why someone becomes addicted. Some people blame the addicted person, assuming they can control their behavior. Sometimes the addicted person blames everyone else, assuming a victim mentality. Neither viewpoint gets to the complexity of addiction.
Let’s take victim mentality.
A person with an addiction is struggling. Their life feels out of control, and they’re looking for ways to explain their behavior to themselves and maybe to others. If they sense that the people around them are blaming them, they may feel driven to defend themselves. So how do you listen and show compassion to someone while also helping them see that they can have the power to change their circumstances?
Encouraging your loved one to seek substance abuse treatment is essential no matter what they are communicating to you. Yet, you may want to understand why this victim mentality occurs.
Why an Addicted Person Might Adopt a Victim Mentality
While you could ask your loved one why they feel like a victim, it’s unlikely that they will be able to communicate effectively or clearly if they are in active addiction. However, listed below are a few common reasons why people see themselves as victims.
Blaming Someone Else Means It’s Not Their Fault
It’s not easy to take ownership for addictive behaviors. Blaming someone else is part of the denial process. Blaming may include saying that they only use because their friends do. They may blame the doctor for prescribing pain medications. Others may blame their poor quality of life or lack of respect at home. In all cases, blaming is a short-lived benefit. Most people know it’s not authentic. During addiction recovery, a person will need to address their personal responsibility for their situation.
It Justifies Why They Are in This Position
If you’ve ever confronted a person in active addiction, they are probably quick to make excuses. Often, they will work to justify their use. The victim mentality gives this support.
For example, they may say, “You don’t know what I’ve been through. If you had my life, you would drink, too.” That type of statement gives them the confidence they need to keep using. It may be true that they are struggling from anxiety and depression. Yet, using drugs or alcohol to compensate doesn’t help.
It’s a Factor of Low Self-Esteem
Another common reason people use the victim mentality in addiction is because they don’t have a high regard for themselves. An addicted person with low self-esteem can’t justify that they are worth more than drug use.
They may state that they have no reason to live. Or they may say, “No one cares about me, so why should I care?” Some use their self-esteem problems to justify not getting help. Others will use it as a way to justify relapse.
A person with low self-esteem may be battling depression and anxiety. If they had preexisting mental health conditions, it is very likely that your loved one may be using drugs or alcohol to manage those symptoms. Co-occurring disorders like this are common and require specialized treatment.
Overcoming the Victim Mentality
If someone you love is thinking of themselves as a victim, tell them that they are worth a healthy and happy life. Encourage them to seek treatment. Try to point out the good that can come when they seek out treatment, such as:
- Overcoming past traumas
- Facing past mistakes and moving on from them
- Gaining the forgiveness and respect they desire from loved ones
- Taking responsibility for the situation they are in right now
- Getting a better quality of life than they think they deserve
Though it’s very difficult to overlook someone’s victim mentality, it’s essential to do so. Seek out counseling to help you understand how to talk to your loved one. If you cannot get through to your loved one, talk to our team at DK Solutions about interventions for drug or alcohol use. We can help encourage your loved one to embrace their power to change.