More and more it appears we exist in a society where people prefer to blame, deflect, and avoid rather than be accountable. Addicts living within their disease are masterful at blame, deflection, and avoidance—it is part of the behavioral makeup of the addict and part of the reason so many in the helping professions dislike working with this population group. I think that part of the disdain comes from the structure of the counseling relationship which is often predicated upon accountability and insight and the addict does not play “good patient” thus the “expectations” within the clinician are not met. Part of the reason I enjoy working with addicts is because of these traits; albeit that many of the stories become similar over the years there is always that one addict that has a new twist on blame, deflection, or avoidance and their story is intriguing in its presentation. I have learned many a lesson from working with addicts– one of which is that perception truly is reality. Addicts live in these “lies” for so long that they often come to believe it as truth, so the work begins around changing perceptual lenses. I “expect” the addict to display these traits and thus the process is normalized through this dance rather than frustrating. It is through their blame, deflection, and avoidance that the truth can be sought and accountability specific to their world can be brought forward. I become more concerned with the addict that accepts accountability right from the outset as this is atypical and may be an indicator of someone who is not fully committed to the process–it becomes his or her form of avoidance in a paradoxical manner.
True accountability comes when the addict understands and accepts that their disorder was not caused by family, work, friends, traumas, relationships, losses, religious denominations, etc. These factors influence, accelerate, and exasperate an addiction, but they do not as a stand-alone cause an addiction. Substance dependence for many is created from a genetic predisposition to addiction with psychological, social/environmental/developmental, and spiritual issues. There is a vast body of research related to the genetic predisposing factors related to substance disorders and most in the field are in agreement that addiction is a bio-psycho-social-spiritual disorder; meaning that these pieces need to come together in a manner whereby addiction is the result. It is important to note that a genetic predisposition alone is not a life-script for dependency. I have met many individuals that have come from families where addiction was rampant but that they themselves did not develop dependence—the reason…all of the other areas did not line up. They have a familial history for addiction yet they were raised in healthy environments, developed good peer relations, and held a strong spiritual grounding that when combined kept them from a life of addiction.
So accountability is a process of seeing where the addict played a role in this process; this is not to say that it is only because of poor decision making that one becomes addicted and that addicts are characterlogically flawed people (as this is simply untrue of most). What I am saying is that the addict needs to perceptually refocus the lenses so they can see their part in the process as this is the only part they can change and if they take this action, they begin to alter the behavioral aspects to this disease.
A good example of this perceptual reality is that many addicts hold the belief that everyone in the world uses substances–maybe not the same way that they do, but nonetheless everyone uses. Until they see that this is untrue, they cannot believe that abstinence is even possible.
TODAY HAS STARTED-–HAVE A GREAT ONE!