People caught up in addiction have an impressive ability to find justifications for their behaviour. One of the most common sources such individuals use when attributing blame for their condition is other people. No matter how badly the alcoholic behaves or how many other people he or she hurts, they can continue to grasp tightly to a story in which they are always the victim.
It is true that many people begin abusing alcohol in response to psychological trauma that may have occurred due to unfair treatment from others. Getting drunk can provide some relief initially; in this type of situation, using alcohol is referred to as self-medication. The reality is though that the relief provided by alcohol is only temporary and drinking becomes less effective over time; the negative effects of this behaviour soon outweigh the positive. This means that blaming others for substance abuse is not rational.
Once people become hooked on alcohol, they begin to fall into denial about their situation. This is a type of mental defence mechanism used to protect the ego. The person understands that drinking so much is not a good thing, but the fact that he or she is physically addicted means that there is a strong desire to continue the behaviour. This leads to a type of metal discomfort known as cognitive dissonance. Denial is a way to escape the cognitive dissonance because it provides a justification for the behaviour.
If a person says that he or she is drinking because of the way others treat them, it means they can see themselves as the victim. It might be obvious to everyone else that the reason things are so bad is due to the alcohol abuse, but the person who is engaged in this behaviour can be completely convinced that all of their problems are due to other people. For example, if this person loses their job because of always being hung-over then they can focus on, for example, the excuse ‘my boss always hated me and was just looking for an excuse to get rid of me’.
Blaming others for things going wrong can easily become a habit, and it is possible to twist logic to always be able to point the finger at others. This way of thinking can become so ingrained that the person does not even realise they are doing it. The individual just starts to believe that they are living in a world full of nasty people who are always causing trouble for him or her. This way of thinking can even continue after the person has managed to give up drinking, leading to dry drunk syndrome.
If other people do something hurtful or harmful, you do need to call them out on it. Blaming others is just a waste of time though. It is only by focusing on the part you played in any bad situation that you begin to improve your life. For example, if you have an argument with a friend, it is much better to focus on how you could have avoided the argument rather than to focus on why the other person was wrong.
Giving up blaming other people for the state of your life is empowering because it means that you recognise that your future is in your own hands. It also means that you are not reliant on others to treat you the ‘right way’ so that your life can improve.