What to Do When They Blame You For the Use

Family Addiction, Hope for Families TV | 0 comments

In the last episode of Hope for Families TV, I talked about the factors that are to blame in addiction because so often we as family members get blamed for our loved one’s use.

And this is one of the big drivers of the dysfunctional relationship dynamics in family addiction. In fact, this dynamic honestly runs rampant in my family, among addicted members and non-addicted members alike. And it’s just so emotionally abusive and damaging, I want to be able to address it in this week’s episode of hope for families TV.

So there’s good news and bad news here. The good news is that there are healthy ways to respond to this dynamic. The bad news is that it’s not easy. But if you can shift this dynamic, you will have gone a long way in having a positive influence on the problem.

So there are three elements required to address this dynamic:

  1. The first is boundaries.
  2. The second is humility.
  3. And the third Effective Support.

As for boundaries, what boundaries actually look like in this situation is: not engaging. In other words, don’t get offended – at least not overtly – and don’t try to defend yourself. Don’t engage in the argument. Recognize from the outset that an argument around blame will go nowhere. Also, don’t try to blame them back, no matter how responsible you think they are for their problem. Because that goes nowhere either and will likely only escalate the argument and drive them into further use.

I’m going to give you a suggestion for what you can say, but it’s important to say this with as neutral a voice as possible. Because you can engage in the argument even with your tone of voice, and you don’t want to engage in any way, shape or form. You may be angry at being blamed, and that’s understandable.

But it’s important to vent that anger elsewhere so you’re not escalating the situation on your end. And I’ll talk more about your understandable anger in a minute.

But for now you can say something like:

“I know you’re frustrated/overwhelmed/stressed/angry [or whatever feeling they might be demonstrating], but I won’t engage in a blame game. I’m happy to discuss this when you’re able to have a healthy and respectful dialog.”

However you decide to phrase this, what’s important is to neither accept nor deny fault. It doesn’t matter in this specific moment where the fault lies. This strategy is about playing the long game. They want you to play a blame game, but you want to play the LONG game. Because the bottom line is blame games don’t help, and they don’t encourage growth or change in anyone.

If your loved one keeps pushing, walk away from the conversation however you can. The fact is, your loved one likely WILL keep pushing because they’re looking for a reason to drink or use, and you not engaging in the blame game denies them that. You can just keep repeating “I’m happy to discuss this when you’re able to engage in a healthy and respectful dialog.” And then shut the door, get in the car, whatever you need to do to create distance.

As I already mentioned, I KNOW this is not easy. But this is why Effective Support is also required to address this dynamic. And you may need to strategize about how you’ll walk away ahead of time.

Not engaging isn’t going to make you feel like you’ve fixed anything. What it IS going to do is not make things worse. And as I mentioned, you’ve actually had a positive influence, because you’ve made it harder for your loved one to find and excuse to use. A small, but important victory. Because the more difficult it become for your loved one to justify their use, the more willing they may become to look at positive change.

When it comes to humility – and this too requires Effective Support – it’s important to be humble enough to ask yourself if there’s a grain of truth in your loved one’s accusations. This can be just as hard, if not harder, than not engaging.

Because when I’m suggesting you ask yourself if there’s a grain of truth in your loved one’s accusations, first of all, I’m not at all assuming there is. There absolutely might not be. But sometimes there also is. And IF there is, it’s important to look at that. AND it’s important to look at that WITHOUT blaming yourself for their use. Because that is information that you can use to help improve the relationship on your end.

Looking at any shortcomings you may have in the relationship does not mean you are to blame for their use. It means you’re open to growing and changing for your sake, for the sake of your relationship with your loved one, and for the sake of their potential recovery.

If you watched my free video series, the 5 Actions Required for Substance Abuse Recovery, you know that building healthy relationships is one of the things required for successful substance abuse recovery. If you’re willing to look at your part in unhealthy relationship dynamics, this will help them as well.

They, of course, have to take responsibility for their part, but relationships heal when both sides are willing to learn and grow. And if you find that there is an element of truth in their accusations, then reflect on that and see how you might be able to shift that behavior.

You will probably need Effective Support if you’re going to do this well, and that is one of the reasons Effective Support is so important to this process.

The first two elements are all about changing dysfunctional relationship dynamics that develop with family addiction. And that can’t be done effectively in isolation. We’re often too wrapped up in the dynamics to be able to bring more clarity to the situation.

The other reason Effective support is an important element in shifting this dynamic is because you need to be able to do something productive with your anger.

First, you’re going to need to be able to vent that anger to an understanding ear. But second, if you really want to shift dysfunctional relationship dynamics, then you need to take it a step further. You see, anger is important information that should not be ignored. It’s telling you that you need to set a boundary and that you need to take care of yourself around a problem.

And if you really want to be able to excavate that information and determine how you need to take care of yourself and what boundaries you need in order to make that self-care possible, you’re probably going to need an outside perspective in the form of Effective Support. Because without that Effective Support, you’re probably going to get taken down by those same dysfunctional dynamics, and by all the objections your fear around this situation is going to bring up. Effective support will help you ensure that those fears are not the only voices at the table, and it will therefore help you creatively problem solve around what your anger is trying to tell you.

There are links to multiple forms of Effective Support on my resources page, but if none of those sources appeal to you, I encourage you to take a look at my online Family Addiction Support Community. I’ll put a link to that in the notes below.

So in short, when your loved one blames you for their drug or alcohol use, the most important thing is to not engage. And have the humility to see if those accusations contain some information that you can use to help improve the relationship on your end. And for either of those things, you’re going to need Effective Support.

To close, I’d love to know your thoughts. How might you phrase your response to being blamed for your loved one’s use? And do you already see shifts you can make to improve your relationship with your loved one? Let me know in the comments. I promise I’ll respond.

The Family Addiction Support Community


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