From the book: ADDICTION: Am I Powerless?
Denial is the biggest road block for anyone trying to self-diagnose the presence of an addictive issue. When it comes to the topic of denial it’s quite possible that most of us would not be nearly as cognizant of the word if people struggling with the issue of addiction hadn’t helped make the term so clear to us all.
Addicted persons are well known for their seemingly purposeful refusal to see the error of their ways and admit to a problem that seems obvious to everyone around them. There is a saying in the recovery communities; “Denial is not a river in Egypt.” The statement pokes fun at the depths of denial possessed by the addicted, to the point that they don’t even hear or recognize the word.
Most everyone in modern society has heard the term “12-Step Program.” The proof that denial is the linchpin in overcoming any type of addiction is evidenced by the first step of all the 12-step programs, from AA to OA (Alcoholics Anonymous to Overeaters Anonymous.) “We admitted we were POWERLESS over alcohol (drugs) – that our lives had become unmanageable.”
The first step in the recovery programs requires that one admit to or acknowledge a problem; it is the primary condition for any hope of change or recovery. This admission is personal and not clinical. The first step is only an admission of “POWERLESSNESS” not of alcoholism or addiction. This necessary acknowledgement of any level of a problem is the crux to any possible or potential change, whether you choose to attend a 12-Step Program or not. Without a personal revelation about the severity of the problem the hopes for change are short lived at best. We’ll come back to this issue later: We are only in the learning and assessing phase for now.
Let’s take a closer look at the dynamics surrounding a person who becomes so confused and distracted by their need or desire to use that they can no longer see what seems apparent to everyone around them. Sometimes this is a person who refuses to acknowledge their own problem so adamantly that their significant others begin to take this refusal to see what appears obvious, as a personal affront, a personal “—- you!” What this really suggests is that the family experiences the denial of the addicted as having someone purposefully and knowingly lie straight to their face. Most addicted people don’t possess enough clarity of the situation to really make their family suffer purposefully.
A drug treatment saying goes; “The addict is always the last one to know.” This saying suggests that it has already become blatantly obvious to everyone else around the addict. Remember, denial is a defense mechanism, a serious psychological machination resulting from addiction and powerlessness.
As a treatment provider, one way we know that an addiction is in full bloom is when the families tell us they have stopped calling the addicted person; that they have stopped taking their calls. Maybe their bosses have let them go or reassigned them, maybe their lovers have moved on and the legal system has to do for them what they “won’t” do for themselves.
By this stage the “Defense Mechanisms” used to protect the use of the chemical are so entrenched in the addicted person’s mind that the addict is still convinced that they’re just having a run of bad luck. If you are dealing with this phenomena or a sense of “bad luck” then you might want to consider exactly what could be fueling this run of the secret and mystical concept of “luck.” Perhaps the chemical is the talisman or jinx drawing these negative experiences to you.
(In the next chapter I explain exactly how this occurs)
On a more serious note, let’s examine this issue further by taking a more general look at human self-deception. Before we do I want you to first suspend the addiction issue and focus on how the human mind (in general) can become self-deceived.
From the book
ADDICTION: Am I Powerless
Emmanuel S. John