It’s Not Your Fault

I was about to post the following quote on the UnPickled Facebook  page but stopped short for fear of backlash:



I love this saying and I use it all the time when I am talking to people who are struggling, but it can sound like a cop-out to someone who doesn’t understand addiction.

Addiction comes from using, so how can it not be the addict’s fault? If someone chooses to use, shouldn’t they accept the blame for what comes next?

Well that’s the thing, you see, it’s not necessarily a choice to keep using.

Casual drinkers experience alcohol in a way that is social and fun, but they have the ability to stop drinking. They can take it or leave it. It’s a treat, and they know not to over-do on treats. From a casual drinkers perspective it can appear that people who drink too much are choosing the pleasant treat too frequently and need to use more self-control.

If you scroll through the 6000+ comments on the pages of this blog (holy shit!), you will find virtually no one who says, “I should quit drinking but I am just having so much fun.”

Addiction is not fun. Addiction is not a life anyone wants.

Addiction means drinking (or using) to feel normal. Addiction means that without the substance, withdrawals start in the form of  pain, anxiety or obsessive thoughts or more obvious symptoms like shaking or sweating.

The thing to blame for addiction is the fact that alcohol is addictive and yet people are expected to use it without consequence. We know not to start smoking if we don’t want to get addicted. We know that drinking coffee every morning will get us hooked on caffeine. Addiction is the normal course of action for using addictive substances. To drink or use drugs WITHOUT becoming addicted is abnormal.

Why why why why do we expect alcohol to be anything other than it is?

The other tricky thing about addiction is that it creeps in slowly and alters self-perception, so it can take a long time to become aware it has developed. Even then, so much shame and stigma exists around addiction that the first reaction can be denial out of self-preservation.

To be fair, it should also be said that people in the throes of addiction can be mighty assholes who defend indefensible behaviour by blaming others. How painful and frustrating it can be for those living with an addict who appears to be having a great time at their expense while taking zero responsibility. How infuriating it must be to see a quote saying “addiction is not your fault…” when you see the same pattern repeating again and again. Fair enough, that is hard, but please understand: addiction isn’t anyone’s fault. 

Forget fault. Forget blame, shame, and guilt.

Addiction is a reality, and realities must be dealt with. Trade blame for acceptance and responsibility. Yes, this falls squarely on the shoulders of the addict, who can only assume responsibility by accepting the reality of their own addiction.

Blame lives in the past, hope lies in the future, but recovery happens in each present moment where acceptance and responsibility are found.




  1. “The other tricky thing about addiction is that it creeps in slowly and alters self-perception, so it can take a long time to become aware it has developed. Even then, so much shame and stigma exists around addiction that the first reaction can be denial out of self-preservation.”

    Yes, yes, YES! This quote resonates so deeply with me. Perhaps you have heard the Fable of the frog in boiling water: “If you plunge a frog into boiling water, it will immediately jump out. But if you place the frog into cool water and slowly heat it to boiling, the frog won’t notice and will slowly cook to death.” Turns out this is a myth, but still it precisely captures the situation I found myself in after a 25-year dysfunctional “relationship” with alcohol. I started drinking in earnest around age 20 at college. In the early days for me drinking was fun, and social, and it did something almost like pressing a “release valve” in my anxiety-riddled, perfectionist brain. But somewhere along the line it stopped being fun. And yet I still drank. Somewhere along the line it stopped being social, and turned into isolation. And yet I still drank. Somewhere along the line it stopped “working” as a release valve, and I stopped growing as a person, stopped being able to adapt to the pressures, boredom, and yes even exciting and wonderful events of everyday life unless my liquid of choice was there. After 25 years I found myself the proverbial frog in a pot of water near the boiling point, hardly having noticed a thing. Thank God I was able to jump out before cooking myself to death. I am forever grateful for the many life saving resources I found here on this blog and in listening to The Bubble Hour. Ready to start my life out of the water.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. “The other tricky thing about addiction is that it creeps in slowly and alters self-perception, so it can take a long time to become aware it has developed. Even then, so much shame and stigma exists around addiction that the first reaction can be denial out of self-preservation.”

    This. This is my truth. Never realizing the power of the addiction until it was too late then being too embarrassed or stubborn to admit it. Thank you, great post!


  3. Thank you Jean for coming back to the bubble hour… I am new to recovery and the bubble hour and sober blogs are what helps me stay sober…. I was so sad thinking that it was not coming back after I finally dicided to stop drinking so I really appreciate that someone will be there to help me stay on track


    • Thanks Sandra, I’m glad to be back and double happy to that it is helping you! I’ll be adding some listener feedback stuff so I hope you’ll take part in that. Stay tuned!


  4. Do I agree? I think I do, just a different way of saying what needs to be said, and that is what recovery is all about. Doesn’t matter how you got here, you are here. One of the first questions I was asked: “Do you blame God for your addiction?” My answer: “Hell No (very loudly) I do not blame God, I got myself into this mess.” There is no blame, only accountability.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Hi, my name must be virtually no one because I should quit drinking but am just having so much fun. Not always, but enough that the good outweighs the bad. At least in my head. Which is the only place that matters. And I am addicted. Psychologically, physically. I drink every. damn. day. Even when I’m sick, even when I say I won’t. And like I said, it’s not always fun. But it mostly is. And after being in this community a long while and reading several tons of literature over the past several years and listening to audio books and podcasts and blogging and reading blogs and getting other hobbies and staying busy and the whole thing for years I really think it’s the sense that the fun outweighs the bad that keeps me going back, rather than the addiction in and of itself. SO many will respond “that’s the addiction talking,” but I don’t think that gives the person with the addiction enough credit. We have to be stronger than our addictions. If our addictions are always doing the talking, how can we have faith that we’ll ever overcome this stuff.

    As an example of why I don’t believe it’s the addiction making me do it: addiction or not, if someone told me that if I have one more alcoholic drink I will drop dead immediately, I would be able to quit. I have no doubt. I’d probably be able to quit if someone told me one more drink would cost me my life “sometime in the next 2-5 years.” It’s the not knowing, and the consequently flawed cost-benefit analysis that keeps me going back. Pretty fun, not necessarily going to die over it (or lose my job, spouse whatever the thing is that one actually prioritizes over alcohol), ergo keep going. I’ve been addicted before, to starvation. I also have been fighting dermatillomania since i was a teenager. No matter how addicted you are to something, the addiction cannot make you pick up a drink or cigarette or pick at your skin. It’s a lot easier to argue the addiction can prevent you from putting food in your mouth. You can say it’s the addiction, but it’s really you saying the benefits of this action are more important to me than the costs of this action are worrying to me. I think that’s especially true in the high-bottom crowd. I agree with the quote entirely. The addiction itself is not your fault. But I think more can be said for an individual’s power and autonomy in this community in terms of how one deals with one’s addiction(s). I’m tired of hearing “that’s the addiction talking.” Maybe so and maybe not. But that’s not the point. In order to quit, you need to quit drinking. Maybe it’s tough love or backlash, but I think there’s a place for it.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Yes.
    The quote I used is maya Angelou – when you know better, do better.
    In the grasp of addiction it is so hard to see what better is. But in recovery we need to keep our eye on the ball. Some work is required.
    But it is so worth it!


    Liked by 1 person

  7. You nailed it! Unless you’ve been there you can never fully understand why someone would keep doing the thing that’s causing the most problems and pain in their life. But when you’re in the middle of it, it’s the only coping mechanism you know and you literally feel that you NEED it. My husband told me so many times to throw out the stash that I had hidden around the house. I knew it was the right thing to do, but I was AFRAID to not have it there. Sounds so messed up, I know. But that’s how hard it is to break. I’m grateful to say that after years of that hell, I’m now 1 year and 8 months sober. And as tempting as that one drink might be, it scares me to pick it up and end up back where I was. So now, I do take responsibility for my recovery. Now I’m fully aware of how it works and where it will lead. And for anyone out there still struggling, you can do it too. Be patient with yourself, make it your number one priority and I promise it gets much easier with time.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. So, so true. Dealing now with a family member’ s dependency on alcohol. He couldn’t stop on his own now if he wanted to. Not without some scary health consequences. So his choice went out the window years ago. That being said, it isn’t called “the family disease” for nothing. His actions affect us all to greater and lesser degrees. It is a sad, bad situation with, unfortunately, no end in sight.


    • Have you tried a program to help you . Al a non is a good place to start . I pray for you and your loved ones . it is a family disease. God Bless


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