A victim mentality is the belief that bad things are always happening to you through no fault of your own. You’re just the victim of someone else’s evil intentions, or maybe just the victim of rotten luck. There are many reasons a victim mentality can prevent you from getting help and otherwise sabotage your recovery.

First, it has to be acknowledged that many many people struggling with addiction are, in fact, victims. They may have suffered childhood abuse or neglect, suffered some adulthood traumatic stress, or maybe they just had terrible genetic luck. Often, the emotions around being a victim are difficult to confront, which is why the escape of drugs and alcohol are so appealing. Healing requires you to confront and work through those feelings in a manageable way, which typically requires the help of a therapist. In that way, accepting that you have been victimized is a crucial first step toward getting past it.

Holding onto the victim mentality will not serve you in the long run though. It often prevents people from getting help at all. People often use their victimhood to manipulate others to get what they want. They know evoking pity is more effective than anger. They may want money or other favors to enable their addiction and they become adept at playing on their loved ones’ guilt. When they aren’t playing the victim to get something, they may do it to avoid criticism or parry demands to get sober. They may defend their addiction by saying something like, ‘I can’t believe you would treat me like this, knowing what I’ve been through’. Victimhood becomes both a rationalization and a defense mechanism against criticism.

If someone does get help, or accept help, the victim mentality can undermine her progress. This is often from a sense of learned helplessness. She may feel like it doesn’t matter what she does; she will still fail anyway. They feel like they can’t change or that the universe is against them. It’s hard to put much work into something when you don’t see any possible way to improve, and especially if you don’t believe your efforts will make any difference. While it may be obvious to most people that you will only get out what you put in, fighting addiction can feel like fighting gravity. If you really believe you have no agency, it’s hard to keep fighting.

Overcoming the victim mentality is not easy. It will probably require a lot of support and the help of a therapist. One thing you can do yourself is to set very reachable goals, like making your bed every morning. Gradually, you will see that your effort can make a difference and then you can set more ambitious goals. Another thing you can do is go to meetings and listen to sober people who used to be like you. Sometimes it’s hard to really believe change is possible, but if you see a living example you can at least acknowledge the possibility.

Located in downtown Midland, The Springboard Center’s mission is to offer programs and services to treat alcohol and drug addiction treatment using an evidence based curriculum, 12 step programs, diet, nutrition, exercise, emotional, mental and spiritual development for a long recovery. For more information, please call us at 432-620-0255 as we are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.