Denial results from the natural tendency to avoid the pain caused by recognizing the presence, severity, and responsibility for dealing with serious problems. When denial is activated, clients start using a set of automatic and unconscious thoughts, feelings, urges, actions, and social reactions that defend against the pain of recognizing the problem.
Levels of Denial
1. Lack of Information
denials lack accurate information or have internalized wrong information about addiction and its related problems.
2. Conscious Defensiveness
Knowledge that something is wrong but refusal to face the pain of knowing. Whenever they start thinking or talking about their alcohol or drug use, an internal argument erupts in their mind. The argument is between the addictive self that wants to keep drinking and drugging and the sober self that wants to stop.
3. Unconscious Defensiveness
automatic and unconscious evasion and distortion of information in a way that guards them from the pain of knowing they are addicted.
deeply entrenched mistaken beliefs held in spite of overwhelming evidence that they are not true. Denial is delusional. They maintain the belief that they are social drinkers and recreational drug users despite overwhelming and undeniable evidence of serious problems. Because they are delusional, they usually do not respond to the denial management methods used for levels 1, 2, and 3 denials. The delusions are often linked to brain dysfunction caused by the effects of alcohol or drug use, or to coexisting mental or personality disorders. As these conditions are treated and begin to remit, these clients usually drop into lower levels of denial that can be managed in counseling.
The Big denial patterns are:
(1) Avoidance (“I’ll talk about anything but the problem!”). addicts avoid being cornered about their behavior, their activities, and their feelings. Diversion is when the addict shifts attention from self onto the misbehavior of others. By shifting the focus of attention, the addict is temporarily “safe.” Making someone feel guilty is one of the most common diversion tactics.
(2) Absolute Denial (“No, not me!”). is when the user, abuser, addict refuses to see the truth even though that truth is plain to everyone else. This denial is not the same as straight out lying, because the individual actually believes s/he is correct and that everyone else is mixed up.
(3) Minimizing (“It’s Not That Bad!”). Minimizing is a form of denying a problem in that the individual will admit to a problem, but discounts its seriousness. Eg:“I drink, but I don’t do drugs.””I use drugs, but I get up and go to work everyday, so I don’t have problem.”
(4) Rationalizing (“I Have a Good Reason!”). Rationalizing and Justifying is simply making excuses to avoid taking responsibility for self. Eg:” I worked hard all week and deserve to party on Friday.” They owed me money and wouldn’t pay, so I had the right to take his tools in payment.”
(5) Blaming (“It’s Not My Fault!”). Blaming other people for individual problems is almost a societal epidemic, and the addict is an expert. No matter the situation or what has happened, it is always someone else’s fault. By blaming others, the addict avoids all personal responsibility and feels justified in behaving however s/he chooses.
(6) Intellectualisation Intelligent people use their “smarts” to avoid taking responsibility for themselves and the decisions that they make. They spend a lot of time analyzing themselves, other people, and the world around them. They use this “thinking about the problem” as a way of “looking for solutions,” while not actually taking any true personal responsibility or steps toward change.
The Small Seven denial patterns are:
Thus addiction is a baffling, cunning and manipulative illness.It is a relapse prone progressive disease which if left untreated will result in insanity or death of the individual.
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