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Holier Than Thou

My momma used to call them: “hypocrites”.

The people who seem to be on their ‘high horse’ looking down on others or because of their choices or conditions in life. Or maybe it’s actually us, who find ourselves saying about others, ” If only- THEY wouldn’t have done THAT– I wouldn’t have to do this, then my life would be exponentially better”.

Possibly, that’s a true statement. But what if our own attitudes and actions have a greater impact than we think regarding OTHERS’ choices?  I am specifically talking about our own stress response to situations- especially at the beginning -of the addict’s journey.

Admitting our own frailties is difficult especially when someones else’s are blatantly front and center, blasting us in the face.

Today I was thinking about this ᴄᴀᴜsᴇ ᴀɴᴅ ᴇғғᴇᴄᴛ. There are many scientific articles rebuking cause and effect mostly in the subject of matter & objects- not humans. Well except for this human example.

You can watch this video here

I decided to go down the rabbit hole and explore  ᴄᴀᴜsᴇ ᴀɴᴅ ᴇғғᴇᴄᴛ
in addiction-

(Surprise Surprise! Says Gomer) since this IS an addiction blog..

I see so many frustrated and bitter posts on mom’s addict support groups about how awful the person with a substance abuse disorder is. They are mean, crass, irresponsible and everything else that you would expect from someone whose frontal lobe is in dysfunction mode in order the let the midbrain do it’s hijacked thing: fight or flight; sick or not sick etc.

We Must, at some point realize that our one finger pointing out, still has 3 pointing back at us.

For example, looking at a homeless person brings out all of our, ” I’m so glad that’s not me or one of my kids-I mean we all work and do responsible stuff right?”

Or the allure of trauma news stories or murder shows makes us think of how fortunate we are that we don’t have those people in our family. I’m not a therapist but it may even be trying to justify, downplay our own problems or even deflect from them.

I know that quote seems harsh.

We all have our faults, some of which we are distinctly aware of. Things such as being disorganized or always being late. Usually, we are oblivious to how much those faults affect others. Luckily we manage to get by without too much devastation and learn to function around our “faults”.

With addiction, the person suffering may initially suffer in silence. They may not even know yet that they are falling into the whirlwind of needing the drugs to avoid being sick. As their dependency escalates they become even more unaware of how their actions are starting to affect others because they are so hyperfocused on their goal..

With the devastation that addiction causes in the short term and eventually long term; the ripple effect to everyone involved, is devastating.  By then it’s sometimes difficult to look back and think what we may have done to “cause”( I say this with extreme caution- hear me out) the ‘addict’ to turn to that particular damaging coping skill.

Before you tell me all the things your loved one has done while in addiction, I will save you from having to relive it.

We have all been there, we who have had our lives interrupted and turned upside down. We all know that we didn’t ask for it. Even- those momma’s & dad’s with a history of addiction.

Their recovery is valid and by no means deserving or even destined to have a child with a substance use disorder.

Let me ademently state that personal responsibility is always number one.


Personal responsibility or Individual Responsibility is the idea that human beings choose, instigate, or otherwise cause their own actions. A corollary idea is that because we cause our actions, we can be held morally accountable or legally liable.


If we go back to basic cause and effect diagrams, every cause has an effect of course.

What I want to focus on though is TᕼE ᑕᗩᑌSE.

We all know the effects, but Why does the cause happen?

If you look at this Article with a study from 2014 from Samhsa it shows how closely related mental health is to addiction. Dependent on what age someone is faced with certain traumas, their resources for coping skills may determine increased drug use.

As I read through this Article explaining Dopamine, I can’t help but imagine that when faced with these life stressors; certain people – especially those with a genetic deposition to addiction- NO MATTER WHAT AGE, will choose to feel good over feeling the angst of stress.

Of course, it seems like a no-brainer. We ALL would choose feeling good over feeling yucky. As I’ve made this journey into my son’s addiction the last year, my days are spent on a roller coaster of emotions. I can be fine one minute and the next start thinking about my firstborn son who’s deeply lost and isolated from our family. I will burst into tears while driving down the freeway. At such devastating times, I have to evaluate what it is that I need- right now- to feel better.

So many times the thought comes: “If I was a drinker- it would NEED a drink right now”.  So why is it different from a drug? I know, because alcohol is legal. I get that. I’m just saying that once someone is addicted to the dopamine response of ANY DRUG, they are going to run to that when any sign of stress comes their way.

Life and relationships are hard enough to maneuver, but people with poor coping skills and/or people prone to addiction use those skills to feel better.

So, ANY KIND of stress, including difficult bosses, insecure or spouses with their own deeply rooted issues, troubled children, the addict resorts to escaping to their (new?) coping skill. First silently, because it seems harmless and a welcome relief to the stress of the day. Like a glass of wine to a non-. Alcoholic.

Ultimately, as we all know, this eventually creates mounds more problems than they originally ever had and as a result, they become the fall guy for all things gone wrong after that point.

After their secret is made known and the house of cards starts to fall, anything and everything (EFFECT) that happens as a result of the addiction is now deemed the addicts fault

They even start believing what the drugs tell them and, by now, what everyone else is telling them and showing them. The stigma of being worthless and useless imbeciles of society is further “proved” by involvement in crime and/or the justice system.

The addicts’ behaviors are now so wrong that any previous behaviors of others is forgotten. Everyone -including the addict -becomes stuck in this spin-cycle of destruction which is very difficult to hop off of.

The addict is bound to his own shame and blame game. Yes, it was HIS initial CHOICE to start due to his coping mechanisms, so the cause and effect seem pretty clear cut.

I’m not in any way trying to take the blame off of the addicts’ initial choices. I also am NOT advocating any more guilt on the addicted loved ones’ families. God No! We have enough. I’m simply saying that there probably were a lot of problems before the addiction because there just IS, in life. But NOW because of the EFFECTS of The Addict, every other personality problem or characteristic of anyone involved in the addict’s journey suddenly disappeared. 

So, because HIS choice was made along with every one of our choices and CAUSES we made. Ours just may not have bankrupt us, or make us chained to our disease like them.

And yes, we do still suffer immensely because of their choices (& effects of those).

I believe that true compassion is remembering the person as a human being who got caught up in the devastating whirlwind of addiction. Like driving through a windstorm, thinking you’ll get through it with a couple of scratches but a hurricane is waiting within to give you the ride of your life.

I believe that it’s us, with healthy brains, who can show the addict how to handle the stress of a
Windstorm again.

Of course, they have to be somewhat willing, but we can still model UN-toxic behavior & healthy empathy.

Being treated like they are humans who made some mistakes will give them hope that they CAN SUCCEED at recovery and that they are NOT a lost cause.

I believe that WE can be their HOPE in a world that only shows them more turmoil and darkness.

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