How does denial affect drug and alcohol addictions?

Denial seems common among drug addicts and alcoholics. Why is that? Does one lead to the other?

asked 26 Feb '12, 20:45

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Meet281
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drug-addiction

Drug Addiction

Drug addicts in denial remain distant from confronting the real problem at hand.

alcohol-addiction

Alcohol Addiction

Alcoholics often use denial as means to prolong alcohol consumption without ridicule.

alcohol

Alcohol

Though alcohol is legal, it is a controlled substance and is addictive.


When we become addicted, keeping the addiction fed becomes the number-one priority in our lives. The idea of giving up the drug(s) and associated behavior(s) that help us maintain our addiction is the thing that frightens us the most. Because we do not want to admit how powerful the compulsion has become, and how it is affecting our lives, we try to convince ourselves and those around us that we are doing OK. The process and thought patterns that we use are called denial.

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answered 27 Feb '12, 19:09

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Jack ♦
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Addiction involves profound changes in the way we think, through actual physical and chemical alteration of our brains. Most of the changes take place in a part of the brain over which we have no control, the sub-cortical region that monitors and regulates our bodily processes (the “primitive brain”). This is the part of the brain that tells us that we are hungry, prepares our bodies to run from danger — and that gives us the compulsion to use.

We have no more conscious control over these things than we have over breathing. With practice, we can hold our breath until we pass out, but as soon as we are unconscious we begin to breathe again. Likewise, when we become addicted, our primitive brain tells us that not having our drugs puts us in danger. Because having our mood-altering chemicals or experiences has become essential for our comfort, we begin to find ways to protect our access to them.

We change our thinking to accomodate the circumstances, using denial as means to fake normality. Addiction spawns denial, and in return, denial will fuel addiction.

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Asked: 26 Feb '12, 20:45

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Last updated: 08 May '12, 14:36