Addictive Errors In Thinking

Excuses, excuses! We’ve all heard them, and family and friends of those with substance abuse problems are exposed to more than most people. Excuses are more than just annoying, though. It’s a serious problem that people struggling with addiction share.

Margery knew her daughter had a substance abuse problem. What she didn’t know was how to help her. Instead, she and other family members made the situation worse, enabling her daughter’s addiction and other destructive behaviors for too long. When Margery made the decision to take a firmer stance with her daughter, real life change began. Her daughter is still clean today. Read more of Margery’s Heroes In Recovery story here.

Strategies to Distract from the Real Problem

There are many strategies those struggling with addiction will try to avoid dealing with their problem and pursuing help. Often friends and family members enable their loved one’s addictions unknowingly, distracted by the misinformation and lies they are told. These common behaviors reveal the deeper issues that contribute to addiction, and understanding them,may help you detect addiction earlier. The more you know up front, the more you are empowered to lead them toward recovery, rather than enabling an addiction to continue.1 The ways addicts avoid their addiction are many, but several are listed below:2

  • Excuse Making – This is a way of justifying behavior: “I keep using because my wife nags me” or “my parents treated me unfairly.” No matter the circumstances, they don’t justify substance abuse. Instead, the addicted individual needs to get help for the addiction as well as the underlying issues.
  • Blaming– A close cousin of excuse making, this allows the addicted individual to believe that someone else’s actions are at the root of their substance abuse, so they are not responsible for the results.
  • Justifying– It’s a popular method among dieters and others. “I worked out today, so I deserve this hot fudge sundae!” When applied to substance abuse, this can be very dangerous.
  • Super-optimism – A positive attitude is certainly helpful, but believing you can get clean simply by wanting it (rather than seeking professional help) is a misguided thought process that usually leads to a quick relapse.
  • Ingratiating– Those with a substance abuse problem rely on others for many things and to keep those who enable them willing to continue do so, they often make sure they are rewarded for their efforts with plenty of attention.
  • Minimizing– “I only had one beer,” may seem minor, but for someone who’s addicted and needs to avoid alcohol altogether, it’s a sign of relapse. There’s no unimportant substance use for someone in recovery.
  • Victim Playing – The victim gets those around them so busy trying to rescue them that the actual substance use fades in importance.
  • Intellectualizing– A little knowledge is a dangerous thing in this instance. Instead of seeing a positive drug screen as a sign of a problem on their part, this individual deflects by questioning the equipment, the person administering the test or the process itself.
  • Vagueness– Probably. Maybe. More or less. Possibly. This personality is a master at using quite a few words to admit nothing at all.
  • “I’m Unique” Thinking – The rules don’t apply here. “In others, this behavior might indicate a substance abuse problem, but I’m special.” This also applies to treatment methods, relapse dangers, etc. None of them apply to this person who insists they need special treatment because they’re different from other users.

Substance Abuse Help

If you or someone you know is using any of these tactics to avoid confronting a substance abuse problem, it’s time to come clean so you can get clean. It can be disheartening to realize you have enabled someone you love to continue in an addiction. The good news is,it isn’t too late to use your influence to help your loved one get the help she needs. 3

Call us atThe Oaks at La Paloma at our toll-free helpline. Our caring admissions coordinators arethere to take your call 24 hours a day and answer any questions you have. Please call today.


1 Khaleghi, K. “Are You Empowering or Enabling?Psychology Today, July 11, 2012.

2Enabling Behaviors.” University of Pennsylvania Health System, Accessed September 24, 2017.

3 Lancer, J. “Are You an Enabler?” PsychCentral, July 17, 2016.

Articles posted here are primarily educational and may not directly reflect the offerings at The Oaks. For more specific information on programs at The Oaks, contact us today.