Relapse Prevention Activities – Denial
Denial is a normal and natural way that we protect ourselves from the pain of facing up to the problems life brings. It is not a bad thing in itself. It is simply a defense mechanism that we can subconsciously use to protect ourselves from being overwhelmed.
Sometimes we have to put our painful feelings to one side in order to get on with life’s necessities. An example might be when we lose someone close to us. We need to deal with our painful feelings but we also have to manage our lives and keep moving forwards. Denial in a situation like this helps us to keep going until we can handle dealing with the reality of what we are experiencing in a healthy way. Although it can be healthy in many cases, in addiction denial takes on a distinctly unhealthy role. The addicted person often denies their addiction until the loss caused by it forces the sufferer to confront it. For some this realization never arrives and they remain in addiction whatever the consequences.
Relapse Prevention – Denial out of Control
In addiction, denial gets out of control. It is no longer a temporary coping strategy that can help us to prepare to face up to a traumatic reality. It becomes a mechanism which keeps the addicted person trapped in their addiction. There is well known saying: “addiction is not the problem, it’s the solution”. Engaging in addictive behaviour is how addicted people act in order to deal with something else that’s a problem for them. Maybe that original problem was boredom or a lack of confidence or any of a myriad of other possible unwanted feelings. If you find that a substance or activity makes you feel better, why would you want to stop and go back to living life without it? And if someone or something challenges this harmful way of being what better way to defend it than to deny it’s a problem?
By definition addiction is only addiction if it’s causing harm. Yet denial often makes it possible for people suffering addiction to experience dire consequences whilst continuing to get deeper and deeper into addiction and then suffer even more consequences.
One way of taking control of addiction is to begin to admit to the consequences of the addiction and explore them. Confronted with the harm that is happening in our lives and exploring it openly often leads us to a place of acceptance. Until this happens addiction and denial will continue to run riot.
It’s hard to ignore the reality of addiction if we look at the consequences in this way. Looking at the consequences is almost like sneaking up on denial. And why not if it’s sneaking up on you! When you become mindful of the consequences for long enough it is hard not to see the link between them and the thing you’ve been denying. It’s a bit of a sideways glance but one well worth taking and often.
Sometimes we can peer through denial’s veil and get a glimpse of the reality beyond, as if that is as much as we can handle for now. We see things as they are before jumping back into denial where life is more comfortable. Denial comes and goes. If you are suffering addiction and reading this today then you are stepping out of denial already – at least for a moment!
Get out of addiction denial and stay in recovery today!