Denial of Alcohol and Drug Abuse

March 31st, 2011

Did you know that Denial is an unconscious defence mechanisms designed to protect us from a reality that just too painful to admit?
In this light it’s easier to see how people addicted to alcohol and other drug abuse are deluded and cannot see the full negative impact of their drinking and drug taking. It is often the person abusing the substances who is the last to realise that they have a serious problem.
Alcohol and Drug abuse refers to a pattern of drinking alcohol or using drugs to the point that it causes damage in your life.
If you or someone you love is caught up in alcohol and drug abuse please call us today for expert and impartial addiction treatment advice.
The concept of denial was introduced by Sigmund Freud as part of his theory on psychic defence mechanisms.  He postulated that people will create these defences in order to protect themselves from beliefs which would threaten their self-worth.  Denial often exists in “blind spots” that the person is not aware of.  They really cannot see the nature of their problem with alcohol and drug abuse or be honest with themselves.  This is why denial is sometimes said to be an acronym of “Don’t Even Know I Am Lying”.
It is very difficult otherwise to understand why a person would continue drinking or using drugs.  Albert Einstein said that he believed insanity to be repeating the same behaviour over and over all the time expecting different results.  Perhaps it is the strength of denial that can explain why people continue with alcohol and Drug abuse in the face of the havoc this causes in their lives.
People who are in addiction recovery often describe a vicious cycle of mental obsession and physical compulsion.  Again, this is difficult for outsiders to understand but they describe feeling a strong sense of needing to use alcohol or drugs.  This need is described as an intense craving and compulsion that results in anxiety and obsession if it is thwarted or ignored.
Thus people in the grip of alcohol and Drug abuse will be caught between either using their substance or obsessing about how to obtain more.
One way of looking at the reasons people continue with alcohol and drug abuse could be to say that by succumbing to the obsession and finally getting drunk or high they manage to avoid anxiety, stress, and physical withdrawal symptoms.
They might know that there are going to be consequences in the future but in the pursuit of immediate gratification they ignore what might happen later.
Another way in which denial takes root is through minimising the consequences of substance abuse.  People may try to explain or rationalise their alcohol and Drug abuse by downplaying the negative effect it has on their life.
Often the attempts at minimizing their problem may make no sense to people around them.  Arguments such as “I only drink beer and don’t drink hard tack” or “I only drink on weekends” really don’t hold much water to anybody except the person trying to make their problem seem not so bad.  An important part of a substance abuse treatment programme is to highlight the extent of the problem and reduce the size of their blind spots.
Another way in which people try to minimize the perception of their using behaviour is to compare themselves to other people.  They may claim that their alcohol and drug abuse is not so bad because they drink or use less than someone else.  Of course this makes no sense to a rational person but denial is by its very nature not rational.
Sometimes people will try to deflect from their alcohol and Drug abuse by blaming those around them for their behaviour.  It’s easier to blame somebody else than to take responsibility for yourself.  By aggressively blaming people the abuser hopes to prevent them from confronting their behaviour.  The truth is that nobody forces somebody to abuse alcohol or drugs, and so the blame game is just an attempt at manipulation.
If you believe that a loved one is in denial of their alcohol and drug abuse and don’t know how to help then please contact us for expert advice on how to help them and perhaps move towards holding an intervention.
Research has shown that even if your loved one arrives in treatment in a state of denial they can still benefit.  You can help them reclaim their lives and be restored to dignity.

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