Does s/he habitually blame others for his/her circumstances?

Copyright © 2000 by Doug Thorburn. Reprinted with permission of Galt Publishing, from Drunks, Drugs & Debits: How to Recognize Addicts and Avoid Financial Abuse.

It is suspected that most of those who play the "blame game" are addicts. They are incapable of accepting criticism without shifting blame. Now, we wouldn't ascribe addiction to everyone who sues a fast food restaurant for making the coffee too hot. However, someone who sues a bicycle manufacturer for being injured from riding at night without lights, may well be. The same could be said for someone hitting an employer with a wrongful termination suit, even though absent or late 300 times in two years. In other words, while not everyone who blames someone for something is an addict, there is a greater likelihood of addiction in those who do so repeatedly or in situations where the plaintiff really should have known better.

Diagnosing addiction in someone who plays this game is not easily done. This is because of the build-up of guilt and shame the non-addict may feel, due to the disintegration of the family or work environment. The non-addict may play rescuer or caretaker, cleaning up after the addict's messes, unaware that addiction is the source of the problem. This also results from the addict pointing the finger at everyone else, doing everything he can to convince others there's something wrong with them. If you feel you are to blame for the family problems or for the failures of your spouse or children, look for an addict. In addition, this can be done for society as a whole. To sum up, addicts tend to blame; less healthy non-addicts tend to accept blame and healthier ones tend to concentrate on solving their own problems, accepting what is offered them as challenges to be overcome.

Young addicts blame teachers and parents for problems and adult addicts blame their bosses, other innocent persons or "society." While the non-addict child or adult may occasionally do this also, this does not usually become habitual. Repeated instances should arouse suspicions.

The similarities of the enabling of the substance addict by the codependent and that of welfare addicts by society is remarkable. There may be good reason for this. According to perceptive and aware alcohol and drug social workers, as many as 80-90% of welfare recipients are addicts. The rest, are likely victims of addicts. The tools of control for the knowing enabler and that for society are also very similar. Just as an enabler robs the addict of the ability to rebuild his self-esteem by rescuing, society robs the same ability in the welfare addict through such rescues, euphemistically referred to as "putting a floor under" him.