The complex interplay between the human mind and addiction has long captivated medical professionals, researchers, and individuals alike. As a result, there are many lies addicts tell themselves. These internal narratives – often characterized by falsehoods, rationalizations, and denial – can significantly influence a person’s perceptions, decisions, and behaviors, potentially impacting their decision to get professional help. In this exploration, our Clearbrook Pennsylvania experts dive into the voice of addiction, dissecting the intricate web of lies that people with drug and alcohol use disorders tell themselves. By better understanding the role of denial in addiction, we gain valuable insights into the nature of substance abuse and the psychological barriers that both perpetuate and hinder recovery.
The Role of Denial in Addiction
Denial, which is rooted in self-preservation and self-deception, is a common driving factor in the lives of addicts. Commonly referred to as the “voice of addiction,” denial shields the individual from the distressing reality of their situation, enabling them to maintain a semblance of control and normalcy despite the struggles they’re truly facing.
Acting as a psychological barrier, denial prolongs the cycle of addiction by impairing self-awareness, preventing the obtainment of treatment, and perpetuating the lies addicts tell themselves. If denial and addiction have affected you or a loved one, here are some ways to prevent enabling an addict:
- Create boundaries and rules, and stick to them. An addict who does not receive consequences will never feel the need to get sober.
- Never argue with the addict. They will feel threatened and will not listen to any sound judgment.
- Remember that no matter what, the addict ultimately has to be the one who decides it is time. Otherwise, recovery isn’t going to work.
- Seek out an addiction specialist or treatment center that can help the addict see the truth.
- Surround the addict with others who have found success in recovery. Oftentimes, seeing people living a successful life is all the inspiration that is needed.
Common Lies Addicts Tell Themselves
Consciously, denial operates as a defense mechanism for addicts, often enabling them to minimize the consequences of their actions, attributing their behavior to external factors or comparing themselves to others who appear to be in more serious situations. Subconsciously, the individual may use denial to suppress uncomfortable emotions and cognitive distortions that rephrase negative experiences in a more favorable light.
An addict’s internal dialogue is often marked by deceptive and negative self-talk that sustains their harmful behaviors and encourages the cycle of substance use. Some common lies addicts tell themselves include:
I Can Quit Whenever I Want
One of the most common lies addicts tell themselves and their loved ones is, “I can quit whenever I want.” This gives the addict a feeling of control despite the obvious repercussions of their actions. This represents a false sense of control over substance use or addictive behaviors, disregarding the physiological and psychological factors that reinforce dependency.
I’m Only Hurting Myself
Another common lie addicts will tell themselves is that they aren’t hurting anybody. Their denial prevents them from truly understanding the impact of their actions on the people in their lives. Even though their family and friends are expressing pain and hurt, they can deny the reality. For many individuals with addictions, the friends and family trying to make them see their problem become enemies.
The reality, however, is that addiction is a family disease, referring not only to its potentially hereditary nature but also its impact on loved ones at large. The addict is moody, unpredictable, and quite selfish. Their addiction does affect others, especially when they engage in risky behaviors. For example, by choosing to drive drunk, they put others in danger. Their health problems as a result of addiction also burden the healthcare system. Besides that, they can be embarrassing, unreliable, and unstable to be around.
I Haven’t Lost My Job, I Can’t Be an Addict
There are plenty of people who are high-functioning alcoholics. These individuals are able to engage in substance abuse without any outward signs. In other words, they can maintain a “normal” appearance despite the intoxication.
However, just because they can only down a job doesn’t mean that addiction isn’t impacting or won’t eventually impact a person’s life in a more obvious manner. Having a good job, being successful, or having a respected family will not make someone immune to addiction. And because addiction is a progressive disease, the individual’s behavior will worsen over time.
I’m Too Stressed Right Now, I’ll Quit Later
Even the smallest of life’s problems can seem like a disaster to someone suffering from addiction. Everyone faces trouble in life, but an addict struggles with finding a way to the other side without a substance to help. You’ll often hear things like, “If only my wife was better,” or “If my boss wasn’t so hard on me.”
Many times, it will sound like the world is out to get the addict. Other times, they can appear to be under more stress and turmoil than anyone else. The reality is that drugs and alcohol are most likely causing more of their issues.
This is another one of those lies that allows the addict to justify their behavior. What they don’t realize is that many of their problems are exacerbated by their substance use.
They Are Just Trying to Ruin My Fun
When an addict hears concerns from loved ones, it is easy for them to feel controlled. They believe that no one wants them to have fun. The family becomes the enemy during this time and will often find the addict pulling further away.
It Didn’t Work the First Time
When someone has given drug or alcohol treatment a try, and they feel they “failed” at it, they will have a difficult time wanting to go back. Oftentimes, they weren’t ready the first time they tried. Recovery works if you work it. When the individual approaches rehab willing to try their hardest, they’re more likely to see results.
I Need It to Function
This lie perpetuates substance abuse as a coping mechanism, overshadowing the negative repercussions on cognitive, emotional, and physical functioning. The individual doesn’t believe that they can have a life outside of addiction, oftentimes because they’re afraid of being sober.
It Can’t Get Any Worse
Even if you’ve hit rock bottom, things can always get worse when addiction is involved. There’s no definitive turning point in addiction, and the belief that there is one can hinder self-awareness of the ongoing harm and the need for professional treatment.
Start Your Recovery Today
If you or someone you love is struggling with drug or alcohol abuse, we can help. For over four decades, Clearbrook Treatment Centers has been providing quality addiction treatment while also offering support and education to the affected family members.