Addiction to Drugs/addiction


My sister was 63 when she died from prescription drug use, she was addicted to them for many years. She would go to rehab but didn't take it that seriously or make the efforts needed once she got out. At times I feel angry, thinking she did it to herself and didn't really want to stop bad enough and it was her actions that caused her demise. But then I wonder how much of it was really her fault. She got the ball rolling by starting with all the pills, but after that, addictions can be so difficult to overcome for many reasons. So AFTER someone gets addicted and it ends up overtaking and killing them, how much of that were they actually to 'blame' for? Thanks

Hi Lee,

That's a very important question you've asked, and I'll answer you the best I can.

The addiction field has long sought to figure out what seems a riddle: Just how responsible are people for their addictions?  We have a framework in the field that pervades almost every treatment center and treatment professionals mind. It's the disease model of addiction.  This model basically states that a number of biochemical, psychological, and behavior changes occur in the emerging (and existing) addict, that produce ever-worsening progression of the addiction. Addiction is often associated with insanity, and the lives of substance abusers are anything but rational.  The so called "functioning addicts" have the benefit of social, monetary, and professional trappings to hide the behavior, but they are just as vulnerable to the insidiousness of the progression.  

I usually look at it this way: Whether one becomes addicted from pills, or simply being a part of a drug/alcohol culture of use, is probably not the most important consideration.  All alcoholics and addicts ultimately have the same challenge, which is to recognize that addiction is not a sustainable behavior. It has guaranteed losses,if not producing absolute, eventual, destruction of an individual.  I believe in an addict or alcoholic's capacity for change.  Yes, they may have some semblance of a disease when they are using, but they eventually know when the consequences are extreme, and have to act on them.

We may not know what ultimately is responsible for addiction, and why some people become addicts/alcoholics and others not, but the burden of change lies with the individual: to embrace change, listen to treatment professionals, and work hard at restoring a life balance.  I spend my working life trying to do just that, as opposed to telling people they have an incurable disease.  I wonder how aggressively your sister embraced treatment, and change in general.  Nevertheless, I'm sorry for your loss.

Hope this helps and thanks for your question.


Addiction to Drugs

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Peter L.


I am available to answer any questions about substance use, abuse, and dependence. I can also offer perspective on treatment options and how to motivate someone to get help. I have over 27 years of experience as a substance abuse treatment professional, working with adolescents and adults in a variety of treatment settings. I feel I can answer just about any question in this topic area but can also access reference sources, or direct you to these for additional information gathering or education on your own.


I am a professional addictions counselor working in a very highly respected treatment center, as well as having a private practice in two states.

Masters Degree in Behavioral Science Licensed Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselor in three states. Also an Internationally Certified Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselor

©2017 All rights reserved.