Person who loves the addict look back on life before her loved one had an addiction

How to Stop Blaming Yourself for Your Loved One's Addiction


Sober Recovery Expert Author

Person who loves the addict look back on life before her loved one had an addiction

It’s difficult to watch our loved ones spiral into their addiction. Sometimes, it can become so painful that we start to question if we’re responsible for what has happened to them. However, friends and family members of addicts can stop placing the blame on themselves by utilizing something called "The 3 C's Rule." The three C’s stand for “I didn’t Cause it,” “I can’t Cure it,” and “I can’t Control it."

To help you get rid of guilt and guard your mental health, here’s an in-depth explanation of the three C’s.

To help you get rid of guilt and guard your mental health, here’s an in-depth explanation of the three C’s.

1. “I didn’t Cause it.”

Generally, this is an important mantra when it comes to healthy relationships. The rule of three C’s operates from the belief that everyone is responsible for their own actions and behaviors, including the addict and those who love them.

When talking to someone who is in the throes of addiction, they may resort to blaming statements such as, “you drove me to use,” “you made me do this,” or “because of you, now I can’t stop.” These kinds of hurtful statements are often used as a manipulation tactic to guilt the loved one into handing them more money or giving them one more chance. In short, they want to be enabled. Often, these statements also indicate that the addict is not ready to identify themselves as the true source of the problem and is instead looking for a scapegoat.

Don’t fall victim to these statements. It can be easy to think that when someone treats us poorly, there must be a justified reason for it. However, “I didn’t cause it” forces us to recognize that we are not responsible for another person’s behavior, only our own.

2. “I can’t Cure it.”

As we desperately scramble for any sort of solution to our loved one’s disease, it is important to remember that there is no one-trick fix for all cases of addiction or mental illness. Different people respond differently to various types of treatment and require different lengths of time to get well.

Additionally, this mantra reminds us that there is no hard and fast cure for addiction. The truth is, there will never be a day where an addict wakes up and will no longer be an alcoholic, and that will be the individual’s life long journey; hopefully in recovery. While there are resources available to help improve their lives, the temptation will always be there and holding out for an end-all be-all cure will only result in disappointment and failed expectations.

3. “I can’t Control it.”

“I can’t cure it” reminds us that we alone cannot change anyone until they themselves are ready to change. Those that suffer from addiction or mental illness are often resistant to change and avoid treatment out of fear. As much as loved ones are tempted to force those suffering into treatment, rehabilitation programs find that treatment is more successful when those suffering are ready and willing to contribute to their healing. In this way, this mantra relieves the loved ones of their perceived burden of having to “fix them.”

Often times it is the addict that becomes the focus of recovery, but the lives of family members also go through a traumatic change. Remember that there are support group that exist for your emotional recovery as well. After all, it is important to keep your emotional and mental well-being just as much of a priority as the addict’s in recovery.


"The 3 C's Rule." Out of the Fog. N.p., 2015. Web. 25 June 2016

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