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Alcoholism and Denial: Does One Indicate the Other Exists?

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Alcoholism and Denial: Does One Indicate the Other Exists?

Denial of a problem is often one of the biggest hurdles when it comes to seeking out professional help and rehabilitation for alcoholism or alcohol abuse. Because of the way chemical dependence alters your brain and the severe effects of physical withdrawals, rationalizing your behavior and denying the existence of a problem can often block you from being able to take an honest look at the realities of your alcoholism–and can end up being a huge roadblock on the road to sobriety. Alcoholism and denial are very much so connected in that, many people will say that their drinking does not effect them, or that they can control it despite actions which suggest otherwise. Unfortunately, this kind of irrational thinking and rationalization can only serve to worsen the already mounting legal, relationship, family, and financial troubles caused by alcohol abuse and dependence. 

 Alcoholism and Denial

The hallmarks of denial are fairly straightforward for the most part. If you find yourself rationalizing your drinking habits, constantly firing off excuses, or arguing with friends and loved ones about the negative effects of alcohol on your life and relationships, you are most likely in denial about your alcoholism. Other common signs of alcohol abuse denial include:  

  • Lying about how much,how often, or how heavily you drink.  
  • Complaining that your friends, family, and other loved ones are exaggerating the problem. 
  • Becoming unreasonably hostile or angry when someone points out your drinking habits or questions your consumption . 
  • Blaming your alcohol-related problems on other people or situations (i.e., blaming an unfair boss for losing your job instead of acknowledging the effects alcohol are having on your work performance.  
  • Downplaying the verifiable negative effects of your drinking problem on your health, livelihood, and relationships Career, financial, legal and relationship issues are a fact of life. But a steady pattern of deterioration and a habit of blaming other people is a clear sign that something is amiss.

Alcohol-Related Myths and Lies People Tell Themselves

“I only drink beer or wine. I’m not an alcoholic because I don’t drink hard liquor.”

 Alcoholism isn’t defined what you drink, or the strength of what’s in your glass. Much to many drinkers’ surprise, it isn’t defined by how much or how often you drink, either. You don’t even have to have a drink every day to be labeled an alcohol abuser or problem drinker. Alcohol abuse and alcohol dependence are much more defined by the effects that drinking is having on your life and body than by your actual consumption habits. 

“Don’t be silly. I can stop drinking any time I want to.”

 This is one of the most common lies alcoholics tell their loved ones–and far too often, it’s what they tell themselves, as well. Whether you really can step away from the bottle at any point or–much more likely–you  can’t break the physical and mental dependence on alcohol and are merely covering the depths of your addiction, this is nothing more than a poor excuse. At its core, this common alcoholism myth is rooted in finding acceptable ways to rationalize your continuous drinking habits and allowing you to feel in control.

 “I’m not hurting anyone but myself! It’s nobody’s business what I do but my own.”

 While it is completely true that the decision to get help for your alcoholism or problem drinking and choosing to live a full, happy, sober life is solely up to you, convincing yourself that your alcohol dependence doesn’t hurt those around you is simply denial at work. Alcoholism affects everyone around you, especially those you love most. And, in cases of drunk driving, angry outburst, alcohol-fueled crimes, or disorderly conduct, it can even affect complete strangers.

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