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What is a Victim Mentality?

A victim mentality is the belief that bad things are always happening to you through no fault of your own. This is common in addiction and recovery for several reasons. First, people who struggle with addiction have often been victims of trauma. Many addictions are driven by childhood abuse or neglect and many more are related to mental health issues. To have a strong recovery, you have to navigate a difficult route between suppressing the trauma and succumbing to it. You have to confront it and work through it without allowing it to become your identity or an excuse for addiction.

Second, in active addiction, playing the victim is an effective tactic for getting what you want. This is the line that goes, “This bad thing that happened wasn’t my fault. If you cared about me you would help me out.” We all want to help friends and family who are in trouble, especially if it isn’t their fault, so this is a hard tactic to resist. Sometimes people are more accusative, with a tactic like, “I’m only having this problem because of you. The least you can do is help me out.” This tends to work better on family members, as most others would just tell you to get lost.

Third, resentments often fuel addiction to begin with. Maybe something legitimately bad happens, but instead of moving past it, you hold onto it. You start blaming other bad stuff on whomever caused the first problem and these resentments start piling up. The more you drink or use, the more bad things “just happen” to you. It’s a vicious cycle.

Finally, drug and alcohol use may actually make it harder to understand what’s happening. Many drugs work directly on your brain’s reward center and leave the prefrontal cortex completely out of the loop. That severely distorts your reasoning around drugs and alcohol. Also, alcohol damages the white matter that insulates neurons. One effect of this is that the parts of your brain don’t communicate effectively, and you may not be able to spot the patterns that are causing your problems. As a result, people in active addiction and early recovery may actually believe other people are causing their problems.

Whatever the causes, getting past the feeling of being a victim is important for recovery. No one can stay sober for you. You have to work under the assumption that you aren’t helpless and life will improve if you make the necessary effort. With the right therapy and support, you can learn to take back control of your life from addiction.

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, Gardens Wellness Center can help you detox and decide on a treatment strategy. Call us today at 844-325-9168 or email us at to learn more.