Scraping the Surface of Denial

Denial is often misunderstood when working through an addiction. On the surface, breaking through denial is as simple as recognizing that you have a problem. We always hear that you have to admit to yourself that you have a problem. This is undoubtedly an important step on the path to recover, yet it isn’t the end of the road at all. Denial is more than a surface issue. This can be a frustrating realization for someone who is participating in addiction counseling because it often slows the process of recovery down for the individual.

If you are in recovery, it’s likely that your relationships with your friends, family, and even yourself have taken a hit because of your addiction. Facing these issues with an open mind in order to better understand them, and make lasting change is no easy task. It’s understandable to want to rush through your recovery, so that you can just move forward, but truly moving forward means really accepting what you can and can’t handle and what you are ready to participate in. Therefore, it’s possible that you may know that you have a problem with an addictive behavior, yet have not completely worked through the denial that your life will now have to change. This is how addiction counseling can help. Working through the initial denial of an addiction isn’t to be underestimated. However, defense mechanisms that you’ve developed over your lifetime to protect yourself won’t disappear overnight. Thus, you can still use these defense mechanisms as a way to avoid unpleasant realities of what you have to change. This protection is only temporary, and without facing these unpleasant external realities, internal growth is nearly impossible to achieve.

Denial is not all-or-nothing. It’s not something that is easy to identify. It’s part of long journey to identifying what you may have lost, and gaining full acceptance of what you may have to change. Though this can be uncomfortable and sometimes even painful, the long-term benefits outweigh the short-term discomfort.


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