Denial works in mysterious and destructive ways when it comes to addiction. Usually, it is deviously manipulating its way through the mind of the addict, convincing a person, through any means necessary, that everything will be okay.
However, it also manifests in the people around the addict, too, distracting them from the painful truth that’s right in front of them. However, while denial is certainly a cyclical and sometimes paradoxical process, it’s not impossible to see beyond it.
How denial works (against you)
Psychology Today defines denial as a refusal to acknowledge the reality of one’s situation. However, the term itself is rather broad, and also involves processes including distraction, forgetfulness and repression. Given that repression, in itself, can actually be a fundamental defense mechanism, you begin to get a concept of how powerful a process denial can be.
Effectively, denial is not always a conscious process. When applied to addiction, it involves tangible, believable thoughts, like: ‘one more time’, ‘just a bit of fun’, and ‘it wasn’t so bad last time, was it?’ (when it absolutely was, was before, and will be, again and again). However, those thoughts – the realistic thoughts – won’t surface until it is too late.
Why? You may ask? In the same way that your brain can take over, and stop you from stepping in front of a bus you’ve barely seen, out of the corner of your eye; it can step in here too and protect you from emotional pain. This means not acknowledging the physical, mental, social and financial damage inflicted, the jobs or relationships lost, and the suffering caused. In exchange for just one more hit.
Lather, rinse, repeat
The previously mentioned cycle of denial can continue repeatedly – and, unfortunately, all the way to an early grave – for the addict. The numbness to emotion, and reality can remain in place for months, years and decades if left unchecked. There is the theory that addicts need to find themselves at their ultimate ‘rock bottom’ before they can make a change, but there are other ways of the wheel.
Therapy can help – although denial can step in, in the form of lies and modesty. Again, keeping a journal of behaviors can help addicts to take note of how often and regularly they need to use the product to which they are addicted – but what’s to stop them lying to themselves, too?
Furthermore, while informative or educational documents might contain everything they need to know; denial will make them see only the differences – not the similarities – in their behavior.
The path away from pain
This is why the most effective route off this ‘hamster wheel of denial’ is to place the addict not only in the hands of professionals but in an environment with other people experiencing the same thoughts and internal processes. Treatment centers work because the addict can focus, without distraction, on the real problem, which lies within themselves.
This is why drug or alcohol rehab in London, like the rehab available from ANA Treatment Centres, can prove so effective at releasing addicts from the internal shackles they might not even know are in place. Surrounded by professional people and fellow sufferers, addicts can achieve acceptance by not only admitting to personal flaws but also seeing the exact same problem in another person.