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Denial occurs when someone does not want to believe that they have a problem with substance abuse. This may make it highly unlikely for them to want to change their problematic behavior.
In most cases, the destruction that substance abuse and addiction causes tends to be obvious to everyone - apart from the individual who is directly affected. This is because denial is a common aspect of addiction.
Therefore, if you have such a problem, you might have many ways to explain why your life is in a mess. Through denial, however, you might be unable to think that your substance abuse is the real culprit.
As long as you are unable to overcome your denial, therefore, you might not be able to find the motivation you need to consider treatment to get sober. If you, however, manage to quit, it might only because you want to please other people - and such sobriety and abstinence may not last long after you leave the rehabilitation and treatment facility.
At its most basic, denial refers to an innate refusal to admit your reality and truth about substance abuse and addiction. In psychology, it refers to a certain kind of defense mechanism in which you subconsciously reject certain truths and aspects of reality simply because you might not be comfortable with them.
If you are addicted to alcohol and other intoxicating and mind altering substances, you might have little to no insight into your own condition due to denial. In fact, you might experience some form of denial about anything that makes you feel uncomfortable. Over time, you might develop a more rigid form of denial that might be difficult for others - or even for yourself - to penetrate and overcome.
Stages Of Addiction Denial
Different experts in the substance use and addiction field explain denial in different ways. It is vital that you are able to discern the main differences between these explanations and definitions if you want to work effectively to overcome your addiction.
In most cases, there are two types of denial, including:
i) Type A Denial
This form of denial happens when you see, understand, and know that you have a problem with alcohol and/or drugs. However, when someone confronts you about the problem, you might deny it flat out even though you know that they are right. This form of denial involves outright lying and dishonesty.
ii) Type B Denial
On the other hand, you might be either totally or partially oblivious that you have a problem. Through various forms of excuse making, justification, rationalization, and self-deception, you may even come to believe that you don't have any problem although others may spot it in an obvious way.
This form of denial usually arises as a result of blindness to your condition or by being dishonest about it. This means that you are honestly and truthfully being dishonest about your substance abuse and addiction.
In most cases, type B denial will not disappear automatically when you see that you have a problem and agree that you are chemically dependent. In fact, it might reemerge later.
As such, it is an entire system of denial - not just denial about having a particular problem. As such, it is vital that you understand that it can affect you both on the spiritual and intellectual level.
This is why there are people who intellectually accept that they have a substance use problem but they do not believe it innately. These people tend to have a high risk of relapse, much to their amazement as well as that of their loved ones. In most cases, intellectual denial arises due to an inherent lack of understanding as well as differences in definition and semantics.
On the other hand, you might be in spiritual denial - which is one of the most difficult forms of denial. It is also hard to deal with this level because most people have a hard time seeing or understanding it.
When you are in spiritual denial, therefore, you might lock yourself in a maze of compliance. This means that you are highly likely to block all possibilities for recovery and ongoing sobriety.
Among the goals that addiction treatment and rehabilitation has is to help you overcome denial and become compliant. By so doing, you will come to intellectually agree that you have a problem. Addiction also aims at acceptance so that you come to believe that you are an addict.
However, this dynamic usually comes in the form of a process and not simply a one-time event. In fact, even in ideal conditions it might take months or years before your acceptance fully roots itself in your innermost self.
To ensure that you are more successful in overcoming your addiction, therefore, your treatment regimen might compel you to attend a minimum of 90 support group meetings within the first 90 days of you leaving a rehabilitation facility. By so doing, you will have greater insurance against the development of further convictions that you don't have a drug related problem.
With regard to the treatment and rehabilitation of chemical dependency, denial usually appears in 3 distinctive stages of phases - with each stage having a spiritual and an intellectual dimension. Consider the following:
1. Stage One Denial
In this stage, you will truly not believe that you have a chemical addiction. Instead, you might accept that you are addicted to particular substances but still continue denying that you have a condition that requires treatment.
In the same way, you might also deny that you have a drug problem in spite of any overwhelming evidence pointing to the contrary. Alternatively, you may agree that you abuse intoxicating and mind changing substances but refuse to accept the fact that you are chemically dependent.
This stage is expressed in a variety of ways. However, all of them often lead to one place - you won't accept that you have a condition meaning that you might not believe that you need to abstain from your preferred drugs to resolve the problem.
Proper education can help you overcome your wrong belief that you are chemically dependent. It also produces intellectual acceptance or compliance to the problem. However, internally accepting that you are chemically dependent is another matter altogether. For it to happen, you need a conversion in your belief system within your innermost self.
In most cases, you will find that internal acceptance can only happen in stages and isn't a one-time event. This means that it is close to impossible for you to accept the new belief system simply by willing that it happens.
Instead, you have to start by admitting that you have a problem. After that, you can continue the same process of admission. Continuous admission might help you come to accept and believe the problem exists even in your innermost self.
2. Stage Two Denial
In the second stage of denial, you will deny the fact that you need ongoing support for sobriety even after you complete treatment and rehabilitation. This form of denial means that you don't believe you are powerless against drugs and/or alcohol. For instance, you might still agree to attend support group meetings after your treatment - although you might not do it.
However, you have to understand that good intentions will never help you overcome and get started on the road to full sobriety. Still, when you have stage two denial, you might refuse to attend support group meetings once you are out of the influence of your rehabilitation peer group - unless you profoundly change your inner perception about having a problem and looking for ways to solve it - which can only come in the form of moments of clarity or spiritual awakening.
Since you might have any inner perception about your problem with substance abuse and addiction, however, you might remain in this stage of denial. However, you can only obtain long term sobriety after overcoming and correcting this problem in your innermost self.
In fact, real change can only occur in your innermost self and not just in your mind. This is why the recovery process is often seen as a spiritual type of healing and not just one that revolves around the psychological.
To overcome the second stage, you need to successfully transfer dependence from yourself to a higher power beyond yourself. This is the only way you will be able to maintain ongoing sobriety over the long term.
When you only depend on yourself to beat addiction, you will remain in this stage of denial - irrespective of how long you have been sober. This is one of the reasons why some people tend to relapse after years of continued sobriety - simply because they were still in stage 2 denial.
However, it is surprising just how persistent this form of denial is among people who are trying to abstain from addictive, intoxicating, and mind altering substances on their own despite repeated failure.
Most of these people seem to be incapable of understanding the notion that they might not be powerful enough to beat addiction without external help and support. This illusion of the power of self is actually one of the main barriers to certain recovery from active chemical dependence.
Only by overcoming this stage of denial will, therefore, require that you successfully deal with this illusion and get rid of it. This is because the illusion might grow into an obsession - just like that some people have about alcohol and drugs being the answer to the problems they have in their lives.
To break it, therefore, you should transfer your dependency to the support of a fellowship of other people. For instance, you can expose yourself to 12 step programs. The first time you do this, however, you might be reluctant. However, after attending several meetings you will come to see that they are actually helpful and that they are gaining greater strength to overcome your addiction.
You can also charge your emotions with more positive energy. Attending support groups will provide you with a sense of ownership and belonging - which could replace your old feelings of worthlessness and guilt. At this stage, acceptance will gradually start to replace compliance.
However, you still need to remember that this is a process and not an event. Despite your early resistance, therefore, you will have made the decision to recover and maintain your sobriety.
3. Stage Three Denial
In this stage, you will deny that you need to be willing to take any steps or go to any great length to ensure you recover fully in the long term. This is a clear indicator that you might have other priorities that may be more important than your sobriety.
Although you might have a strong commitment to sobriety, therefore, such commitment will be weak at best - in comparison to other priorities in your life. Over time, this condition might escalate into other problems.
First, you might increase your commitment, participation, and involvement in recovery - which tends to happen when your problems intensity. Secondly, you may completely withdraw from a treatment program entirely - which could lead to relapse. As a direct result, most people will not stay in this stage of denial for very long.
At this stage, you might also reject the steps you have to take to find and maintain sobriety. However, you need to understand that you can only be sober through total abstinence from drugs and alcohol.
To overcome this stage of denial, you should constantly recommit yourself to participating actively in your recovery treatment. In the same way, you need to get involved - such as in 12 step programs and meetings, in sponsorship, and going on calls.
With greater activity, you may find that it is becoming easier for you to get over the 3rd stage of denial. Although you might not be perfect at first, however, it is imperative that you focus more on your progress than on your performance.
Denial: A Coping Mechanism
Overall, denial is a form of coping or defense mechanism. This is because it comes in the form of unconscious psychological strategies that you may use to cope with truth and reality as well as to protect your ego.
However, such a defense mechanism might keep you from seeking the treatment and rehabilitation you deserve. Only be beating denial and starting to accept that you have a problem can you fully immerse yourself in the programs outlines for you at a treatment facility.
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