Webster’s Dictionary defines denial as “refusal to admit the truth or reality.”
Living in a perpetual state of denial is common for addicts and alcoholics. In fact, substance abuse and denial go hand in hand. The truth is; people with a drug or alcohol problem are usually the last to know they have one –strange as that may seem. Ignoring the truth about the unmanageability and powerlessness caused by addiction is far less painful than facing it.
Denial is a self defense mechanism built into the human psyche, designed to guard us from truths about ourselves, our lives, or our relationships….truths that have the potential to harm us. The mind has a tendency to want to keep us from these truths until we are ready to deal with them –or, until we get into so much pain, we become ready to make a change.
Denial can manifest in any one of our lives, for any number of reasons, at any time. For instance, you might choose not to acknowledge that you are gaining weight, in spite of the facts that your jeans no longer fit. Or, maybe you know you need to end the abusive relationship you’re in, but you keep telling yourself he will change.
Yes, the human mind plays tricks on itself all day long. Any one of us can fall into its grasp. Addicts and alcoholics are especially prone to denial, however. Here’s why:
Addiction thrives in the darkness.
Walking into the light of truth can be a very painful experience. After all, truth has a way of blinding us when we’re not ready to face the light just yet. It forces us to get real with ourselves about our situation, whatever it may be. We can find all kinds of reasons to justify staying in the dark because when we become aware that a problem exists, we also become aware that our lives require change.
After awhile, it just becomes easier to ignore the problem altogether, or minimize the severity of the situation. You’ll tell yourself that you’re “not that bad” because you only drink on weekends. Or, for example; you may have received a DWI and blamed it on the cop who gave it to you, instead of acknowledging that you were drunk driving.
Addiction / alcoholism is a cunning, baffling and powerful disease. Remember this! It will trick you into believing the most miserable nonsense and leave your head spinning, wondering how you got yourself into your predicament in the first place.
However, when you finally recognize that substance abuse is controlling your life, you break through your own carefully constructed wall of lies. The lies have kept you sick, but deception has a way of losing its power once it is brought to the forefront. When you finally recognize that your drug or alcohol use is causing you nothing but misery, then you might be ready to make a change.
Just for today, ask yourself if you are ready to step into the light of truth.