Denial In Recovery
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Denial In Recovery

If an individual does not believe that substance abuse is a problem for them they will be unlikely to change their behavior. Even if the destruction caused by the addiction is obvious to everyone else, it may not be so obvious to the addict. This is because one of the symptoms of addiction is denial.

Denial can be referred to as a refusal to admit the truth or reality. In psychology it refers to a type of defense mechanism where people subconsciously reject aspects of reality that they are not comfortable with. Those who are addicted to alcohol or drugs can have little insight into their own condition as a result of denial. Most people will experience at least some level of denial about things that make them uncomfortable, but the addict develops a more rigid type of denial that can be difficult to penetrate.

Denial is the natural tendency to avoid the pain that is caused by thinking and talking about serious problems.

By our very nature we don’t like to experience pain. So when we are asked to think or talk about things that cause us to hurt, we try to avoid the pain by doing one of the three things:

Denying that we have problems;

Denying that our problems are serious; or

Denying that we are responsible for dealing with our problems.

A defense mechanism is an unconscious psychological strategy that people use to help them cope with reality and protect their ego. The ability of the people to protect themselves in this way can be beneficial but sometimes a defense mechanism will prevent people from enjoying life. One of the most commonly used defense mechanisms is denial. Addicts who suffer from denial will refuse to acknowledge that they have a problem. When they do this they are not lying. Their denial can be so strong that they just can’t see that it is substance abuse that is their real problem.

Most of us have a tendency to lie to ourselves. There are two reasons for this:

We prefer to see things in a way that causes the least pain and gives us the easiest solution or the way out: wanting to take the easy way out is the normal and natural tendency in every human being. As a result, we all have a natural tendency to see things in a way that causes us the least pain and gives us the easiest solution or way out.

We can start believing our own lies: some people call this being sincerely deluded, we believe in the truth of our point of view in spite of overwhelming and undeniable evidence that we are wrong. We are not actually lying to ourselves. We just don’t care about the evidence because our minds are made up. We confuse the way we want things to be with the way that things really are.

The term “denial” is often used in the addiction field to describe people who deny substance abuse problems. Denial is the tendency of alcoholics or addicts to either disavow or distort variables associated with their drinking or drug use in spite of evidence to the contrary.

Some common statements made by alcoholics who deny their disease include: “I could quit anytime I wanted to.” “I’d quit using if people would quit ragging on me.” “If you were in my situation, you’d drink, too.” The addict is a master at using denial to protect their substance abuse. They will be able to supply plenty of other justifications for why their life is mess such as:

The real problem is other people judging them.

Their family stresses them out so they need to unwind with alcohol and drugs.

They have a job they hate and a boss who makes their life miserable.

Life is so boring without alcohol or drugs.

Their lack of employment opportunities it the real problem.

People who do not do drink or do drugs are weird and uptight.

The country is being ruined by the government and this is why their life is so miserable.

The weather is to blame.

The real problem is that they do not have a boyfriend/girlfriend.

Typically, the more severe the addiction, the stronger the denial. This is often baffling and frustrating to family members and others who care about the addicted person.

lemonThere are two types of denial Type A and Type B:

Type A denial is when a person sees, understands, and knows that they have a definite problem. When confronted about the problem they flat out deny it, knowing that it is true. This type of denial is outright dishonesty or lying.

Type B denial is when a person is either partially or totally blind to a problem that they have. Through a hundred forms of self-deception, rationalization, justification and excuse making, a person can actually believe that they do not have a problem, when everyone around them sees this it is obvious. This type of denial comes from being honestly dishonest or by blindness.

The power of the alcoholic’s denial may be so strong that it carries over to the alcoholic’s family and important people in his or her life, convincing them that the alcoholic’s problem is something other than it is—weak health, bad luck, accident proneness, depression, a tendency to be preoccupied and worried, a mean temper and countless other possible problems.


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