Denial in alcoholics

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The term anosognosia means the denial of the disease, the lack of criticism of one's condition and is a characteristic symptom of alcoholism. At the same time, even in the later stages of the disease, a person denies the existence of dependence and categorically refuses treatment. Anosognosia is an evolutionarily formed property of alcoholism, which in many ways allowed this pathology to spread so widely. Denial is a psychological defense mechanism inherent in every person, helping the mind to "close" problems that it cannot accept or survive. One of the first to describe the nature of psychological denial was Sigmund Freud.

Denying the problem and believing that it is possible to give up alcohol at any time is a typical mistake in the thinking of an addict. As a rule, an addicted person can only last for a while, after which alcohol returns to his life again.

Usually an alcoholic decides not to drink for a certain period of time to prove that he has not lost control, for example, under the influence of a promise made to loved ones, or out of shame for what he has done. But anyway, in a month or a year, he will start drinking again. The very essence of the disease is that a person has an illusion of control.

Denial is the addict's way of preventing himself from realizing reality. It is a way to protect yourself from pain and suffering. Denial is used in order not to meet with painful feelings and experiences, in order not to see the grief of loved ones, not to be aware of the "bottom" on which the user finds himself. Addiction denial is a major roadblock to recovery that needs to be overcome. Therefore, one of the first tasks in recovery from addiction is to overcome denial. Protracted denial is also dangerous because the addict accumulates serious problems, which he stubbornly does not recognize. The life of an alcoholic and his loved ones goes into decline. Social skills and abilities acquired over the years disappear, relationships with other people deteriorate. As a result, it turns out that the problem is growing, and the forces to solve it are less and less.

The list (though not exhaustive) of denials will surprise you to learn that many of the phrases you hear from addicts are actually just psychological defenses of your drinking.

  • Absolute negation. "I do not have problems. I can't be addicted."
  • Minimization. “I don't use that much. I know it's a problem, but it's not as serious as others think."
  • Leaving by denial. “I won't talk about it. I am ready to talk about anything, but not about my addiction.
  • Shaking care. “I will talk about anything but my addiction, I have more interesting topics to talk about. I can talk you to death."
  • Leaving with the help of a scandal. “You will bitterly regret talking to me about addiction. I will ruin not only your mood, but your whole life if you don’t shut up right now.”
  • Search for a scapegoat. “I use exclusively because of my wife (father, mother, brother, sister, etc.). If you were married to a woman like mine (had a job like mine), you would use just as much as I do.”
  • Rationalization. "When my use is pointed out to me, I can swindle anyone by arguing for the use."
  • Reference to authority. "Many great people have used drugs, many geniuses have been alcoholics, the use has even stimulated their inspiration."
  • Comparison. “I don’t drink as much as my boss, and he doesn’t have a problem. I knew a man who has been injecting for 30 years and nothing, he lives.

An alcoholic is able to give convincing arguments that he is not addicted, because of which his relatives often believe him, often enter into a state of co-dependence. Moreover, denials help the addict and himself to believe in this lie, stabilize his emotional state and convince himself that everything is in order.

You need to understand that the situation itself will not be resolved, because not a single disease goes away without treatment. Moreover, with each passing day, addiction will absorb a person more strongly. An integrated approach will help to find a sober life, and not just cleansing the body with a dropper. With the systematic use of mind-altering chemicals, psychophysical dependence is formed. Inaction in relation to her sometimes costs life.

Denial of addiction is a natural psychological stage. But a long stuck in the phase of ignoring the disease is detrimental to the patient and his loved ones. Addiction can grow at the speed of a wind-blown fire. And every month it is more and more difficult to snatch a person from her tenacious paws. Overcoming addiction must begin with a comprehensive discussion of the treatment and recovery process with specialists, otherwise the result can be deplorable. Only by fully overcoming denial can one move further along the path of one's own recovery.

90,000 denial of alcohol dependence: how to solve the problem


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Date of publication: 02/26/2019

Alcoholmalism poisoning Stressstress


Psychologist, head of client counseling department.

Specialist in addictive behavior, addiction and codependency problems.

All authors

Contents of the article

  • Types of dependency denial
  • How to solve the problem of dependency denial?

In the treatment of alcohol dependence, it is necessary to overcome the syndrome of denial of the problem. Only an alcoholic who accepts addiction can fully recover and start a new life.

Alcoholics always deny their addiction and find numerous excuses. They believe that they are quite entitled to a glass of alcohol after a busy day, they drink because of problems at work or difficult relationships with loved ones. Dependent people believe that they drink no more than others and can stop at any time. They think it's okay to drink on occasion and endlessly celebrate dates that have nothing to do with their personal lives.

According to experienced psychologists, alcoholics really do not lie to others. The mechanism of denial of dependence is triggered, while the alcoholic comes up with explanations not even for others, but is afraid to admit the problem to himself.

Denial is a kind of deep-seated mechanism for protecting the psyche of an addict. An alcoholic really believes that he drinks only because:

  • no one understands him;
  • there is a tense situation at work;
  • alcohol is consumed by all people in Russia;
  • drinking a small dose of alcohol several times a week, it is impossible to sleep.

Dependent people can be tested on a lie detector, which will confirm that they are telling the pure truth, but this is only their truth, which has nothing to do with reality.

Types of dependency denial

There are several types of dependency denial. Sometimes the denial of the problem is aimed at downplaying the frequency of drinking or the amount of alcohol consumed. The drunk says that he drank too much because he did not receive a long-awaited promotion or was fined for drunk driving.

Another type of denial is projection onto others. The alcoholic condemns other people who abuse alcohol, but does not notice their own problems. He believes that a neighbor who drinks cheap vodka every day, quarrels with his wife and cannot find a job, is really a drunken alcoholic, and a respectable businessman who provides for his own family can relax and afford 100 grams of elite cognac after dinner and not fall into addiction.

There is a denial aimed at finding a rational explanation for unreasonable actions. An alcoholic believes that he drinks because of a bad wife, an unfair boss, financial problems, too demanding parents. Often, addicted people say that alcohol has a beneficial effect on the functioning of the heart and blood vessels, forgetting that daily drinking in large quantities can cause serious deterioration in health and even lead to death.

Alcoholics who have lost their jobs, families and loved ones due to addiction find an excuse for themselves, saying that drinking is better than injecting.

Quite often, alcoholics cite as an example great people who drank, but at the same time created talented works.

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