Often in my work with addiction at our drug and alcohol treatment center in San Diego, I see clients fall into traps with anger and blame. Many times people will describe a person or event that “caused” them to drink. This can be in the form of “I wouldn’t drink if only girlfriend wouldn’t be so mean” or “My boss is such a jerk, anyone would drink in my seat.” These thoughts focus the cause of the drinking externally and lead to a bright anger or a grinding resentment.
The individual can then feel “justified” in having their drink because someone else “made me do it.” It can be hard to take responsibility for one’s behaviors and even harder to own one’s feelings. But in doing so a person will gain a larger amount of self-control. They will become less reactive to difficult situations and find that their anger will resolve itself sooner as legitimate needs are addressed. Sympathy can certainly be hard for dealing with a difficult person or situation but remembering that you can be empowered to manage yourself and your feelings will decrease the pressure to drink and use.
Chad K. Cox PsyD
AToN Center, Drug and Alcohol Treatment in San Diego 888-535-1516