Understanding Denial

Certainly, it may seem irresponsible when the negative consequences of drinking, are

clear to others, and despite promises of change loved ones still continue to ‘up the

ante’. The enigma that baffles those who respect alcohol and apply moderation, often

thinking it is a choice, a moral problem, a matter of stopping. I myself told for years

to...“just put it down”!! - at the time to my ‘all or nothing’ thinking it felt wrong and

ridiculous, like asking me to stop breathing, leaving me feeling misunderstood and


Logic would tell you that sobering up to the aftermath and repercussions, to the

feeling of regret of what can’t be undone, the guilt and shame, would be more

than enough to want to stop. Behaviour and language that wouldn’t cross your

mind sober, feels as if you have a Jekyll and Hyde living inside. But existing

addiction is far from living logically.

If it cost you your peace of mind or your integrity

you over paid.

More powerful than alcohol itself, is the defence of denial, keeping the drinker

stuck, unable or unwilling to see the reality of their situation. A refusal to admit and

see the truth in how alcohol has impaired their physical and mental health, damaged

relationships and downplayed their true potential as a person.

Socially alcohol can be as destructive as it can be binding. People will instinctively

find others who match their own drinking levels and attitudes. Therefore,

unhindered, and socially acceptable amongst the group. Partners or spouses will

also collaborate or disrupt drinking patterns, usually based on how the

consequences impact their own lives and drinking perspectives. Some friendships

share an unspoken denial so dependent on the common connection of alcohol.

Identities shaped by alcohol itself, relationships can slip into a dynamic more about

self-harm than self-care.

We do not see things as they are, we see things

as we are.

For significant others and families, the defence of denial is the most frustrating element

of addiction to experience. Shown in the self-protected exchange of justifying,

rationalising, or minimising drinking behaviours to others. Manipulating arguments to

suit drinking needs, blaming wrongs and faults of others, concealing drinking from

those who question or criticise; and the severity of their drinking dismissed in self-

deluded comparisons. Several or any mix of these defences, distract from the truth that

drinking means far more to them than they are prepared to admit. Instead, statements

such as:-“I could stop whenever I chose, I just don’t want to.” "Stop nagging I drink to

be social.” “If you had my problems, you would also need a drink.”

The truth doesn’t cost anything, but a lie could

cost you everything.

Others try and protect the alcoholic, rescuing them from the consequences of their

drinking. Taking over responsibilities, covering up and making apologies on their

behalf. Known as secondary denial, and very often the underlying energy which

complicates and obstructs recovery. Not only because the drinkers denial is left intact,

able to continue to avoid the true harm and extent of their drinking. But behind closed

doors relationships further burdened with control games, social scripts, and

dysfunctional roles played out as alcoholism progresses; and the process of recovery


Addiction is the only prison where the locks are


Caring and loving an addict can feel impossible, the future can feel hopeless, personal

connections become more complicated and fragile as the compulsive habit of drinking

continues. So pained and tired themselves from their selflessness endured on behalf

of the drinker, the strength and endurance of their love tested over and over again.

Recognising that the sooner denial is overcome, the better chance of a deep seated

change, and a happier, better version of their cherished awaits.

What triggers you, needs healing.

Why the drinker fears change so much is simply in the loss of self-belief and a loss

of genuine confidence that alcohol strips away. Without the mask and comfort of

alcohol their identity feels threatened and unknown. Impossible to imagine living

on life’s terms having to be raw and authentic; to imagine not playing to the

crowd and sharing a drink. The fear of having no solution to emotions that

overwhelm, unable to run from the dis-ease with self, worried about future authentic

attachments, of feeling raw or unable to supress trauma, termed as anything, which

‘stops the brain coping’ and the underlining reason a person drinks.

Overcoming alcoholism, is about dealing with

your physical discomforts, mental resentments

and fears, and memories you would rather


Understanding the why behind these common threads is held in the awareness of

insecurities and complex’s, the self-limiting beliefs and childhood assumptions we

all hold. How we feel and think about ourselves, how we react or respond to

others, why we care and become anxious over what others think, will all be

reflected in why we drink. In overcoming our flawed perfections, we learn to

understand what makes us tick, and accept the best version of ourselves as a

priority for living. A new perspective and attitude needs nurturing, a personality

overhaul and an acceptance and correction to all the reasons we used to drink.

We can see through others only when we can see

through ourselves.

It is normal to feel ambivalent about change. It takes self-discipline to challenge oneself

and leave a familiar path. Change is a process, it takes courage and strength to ask for

help ... but as I say to clients until they collaborate and devote as much time and

resourcefulness into their recovery, as once they did to the ‘power’ of their addiction;

until this shift of energy is made, negativity will accumulate. But when they change

gears, in that moment the road ahead is crystal clear, with only one regret behind them

- That they ignored the signs for so long.


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