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Leaf Image Denial

Denial Ain't a River in Egypt.

Denial is a PRIMARY psychological symptom of addiction. It is an automatic and unconscious component of addictions.  Addicts are often the last to recognize their disease, pursuing their addictions into the gates of insanity, the collapse of health and ultimately death. Sadly, many addicts continue to act out on their addictions while their world collapses around them - blaming everything but the addiction for their problems. 

Denial is one of the reasons that recovery from addictions is seldom effective if the chemically dependent person is forced into recovery rather than deciding they are willing to get help. You cannot work on a problem unless you accept that it exists. 

Step One of Alcoholics Anonymous deals with working through our denial, allowing us to accept our powerlessness over addictions and the chaos and unmanagability they bring into our lives.  (This is just one of the curious and beautiful things about recovery - in acknowledging powerlessness the addict is empowered to lead a healthy life.)  

Active alcoholism and addiction are characterized by a struggle to control and manage use. Addicts resent the suggestion they are powerless until things get so bad they are forced to face their addiction. Sadly, some alcoholic / addicts never break through their denial, and continue use to the point of insanity and death.

There are many subtypes of denial, including projection, ("I don't have a problem - you have a problem.") rationalization, ("I drink because of my crummy job / life / husband / parents / etc.") intellectualization, (being too much "in your head" about your problems.) minimizing, (sure I drink a few beers each day, but it's only beer ") suppression, (forcing down memories of using behavior and consequences of use) withdrawing, (leaving relationships, jobs, etc. rather than face our problems.) geographic escapes (my life is unmanageable - but it'll get better if I move to another place.)

Denial is on of the reasons it is suggested that the friends and famiy of addicts and alcoholics not shield their loved ones from the consequences of their addiction. Having to deal wiht the resutls of thier using can help addicts break through their denial. .





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Note on Authorship: this website was created by a recovering addict and survivor; I am not a chemical dependency therapist or mental health professional. Except as otherwise cited, opinions offered here are the result of my own life experience and a great deal of reading in the Recovery and Mental Health fields.  You may cite this site for academic reference, however in keeping with twelve step traditions regarding anonymity I request you identify the author as "Will H. - Webmaster" 

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