I’ll be the first to concede two facts: one, I had never heard of either Mac Miller or Ariana Grande before I read the headlines announcing his death. Imagine my surprise, then, when the festering cesspit that is anonymous comment sections blamed Ms Grande for Mac Miller’s addiction-related death.
It remains unconfirmed whether or not Miller died of an issue related to his addictive behaviour. However, it has been widely reported that his untimely death was triggered by an overdose. Unfortunately, this seems to be a tragically familiar story, with the lives of Prince, Michael Jackson, and Tom Petty all claimed by overdoses, and those of countless millions more who lacked the former’s public stature.
Grande, in response to vitriolic finger-pointing, has since disabled comments on her Instagram feed. Blame and shame are common responses to any unexpected tragedy, as if finding out who is responsible for something can help those of us left behind avoid it for ourselves. Something is wrong, so somebody must be at fault, right?
As much as we might like to think otherwise, none of us are action film heroes who can singlehandedly swoop in and rescue those we love from themselves. We can do all we can to help them, and take care of ourselves in the process, but the most anyone can do is make sure that they’re available when their loved one is ready to take the crucial first step towards addiction recovery: when they ask for help.
It’s important to remember, when discussing the supporters and loved ones of those dealing with addictive behaviour, that nobody is responsible for the actions and behaviours of anyone else. You can only take responsibility for your own choices. SMART Recovery Australia runs a Be SMART family & supporters’ programme for this purpose. The Be SMART programme aims to support those supporting loved ones with addiction and empower them to engage in productive self-care. Part of this is recognising that you can’t force someone else to change their behaviour. You can only make the best choices for yourself given your situation, and it’s not your job to cure those you love.
Blaming the loved ones of those affected by addiction only serves to alienate people who already circling the margins of our society. Rather than driving people away or instilling guilt, we would be better off finding ways to support one another and create sustainable support networks.