Denial is one way an addict or alcoholic will try to dismiss or ignore that they have a substance abuse problem. Many folks just do not know how to live a life without alcohol or drugs, because it has become their primary coping mechanism. Unfortunately for some, they have self-medicated for so long, that the substances have a grip on them and they are not ready to hear someone tell them how they should live their lives. Thus, denial becomes the way to avoid making any changes and the addiction strengthens its hold on the individual.
There are many ways to deny a substance abuse problem. How many times have you heard someone say, “What problem? I don’t know what you are talking about”. Or they say, “Yeah, you are right but it’s not that bad. It’s not like I’m face planting or walking into any doors. I still go to work every morning, it’s not that bad.” Then there is the person who says, “Yeah, I know, but let me explain to you why I do it. There are some legitimate reasons why I do it, blah, blah, blah!” A recent article about the golfer Tiger Woods discusses the celebrity’s downward-spiraling career. Some could claim that he is in total denial regarding his possible substance abuse after getting arrested for a suspected DUI at 7:00 am.
There are also those who justify their drinking or drug use. For instance, they might say, “in this instance it’s okay; if you were married to my husband, you’d drink too” or “I need a night cap to sleep”. Don’t forget about the ones who claim they got the wrong genes, as they proudly profess, “I am Irish, therefore I drink!” Finally, there are people who will display anger and rage when a loved one expresses their concern. Now, no one will dare to confront them on their addiction because of their defensive or scary outbursts.
For those who are chemically dependent, to hang on to their denial is to potentially die and cause pain to those around them. They are in denial about that too, not able to see or admit that they are hurting the people closest to them.
Hopefully, this denial will be replaced by truth, acceptance and reality. When we bring the truth in we can change lives. This will be important in recovery. Hopefully, they will not abandon sobriety because they attended a” bad” meeting or have the idea that it’s okay to drink because a sponsor never called them back. Lastly, remember addiction is an attempt to meet legitimate needs through unhealthy methods. Recovery is the time to meet those needs through the help of others and making some difficult changes; something that will surely pay off in the long run!