How Denial Affects Addiction

How Denial Affects Addiction

The key to understanding addiction is acceptance and to make a plan for the future to change.

When we’re content, acceptance comes naturally.

However, when we’re hurting, it is much more challenging and difficult and we often enter the phase of denial.

What’s Denial?

Denial is the state wherein you have a distorted view of reality. You may ignore the issues, minimize other people’s concerns or even blame others for the issues that are at hand. When considering addiction regardless of whether it’s alcohol or gambling, denial is a coping mechanism that delays facing the truth.

Denial is a very common issue in addiction. No one wants to be an alcoholic or drug addict or even a gambling addict.

Denial allows them to pretend things are better than they really are and it can include a variety of the following behaviors:


When the term addiction is discussed, the person may respond that others are blowing their condition out of proportion or even exaggerating the condition. They may state that “it’s not that bad” or “others do this way more than I do” and so on.


Addicts will often rationalize stating that “I’m so stressed that I need some help to cope” or “I earned it, I worked hard to earn this”.


This is a very powerful denial mechanism wherein the person can literally convince themselves that things are nearly as serious as they are.

Addicts often use denial to engage in their addiction without feeling guilty. As they continue this denial, they often face self-destruction from health concerns to damaged relationships with friends, family, and employers.

Sadly, it’s not easy to overcome denial. Anyone who is struggling with addiction has found that they must first “hit rock bottom” before they realize the reality and the magnitude of their addiction. This is the time that they have to accept the reality and seek out help in order to move forward with their condition.

There are other ways that they can work through this reality.

These include:


Therapists that specialize in addiction can help them to face their addiction and focus on healing.
Journaling: A journal is a great way to write and focus on their addictive behavior. They can write down how many drinks they’ve had, how much money they have won/lost at the casino, and how much of any given drug they have used in the last day, week, or month. This can give them a true view of what is going on.


There are positive and negative consequences of addiction. These include depleted bank accounts, ending of friendships or relationships, loss of jobs, and more all due to addiction. This can be a huge wake-up call to the addict.


A lot of people don’t even realize that they are addicts. However, the more that they learn about addiction, the more they learn and may then recognize themselves and their particular behaviors.

man breaking free of his bonds

Denial is a huge coping tool that addicts use to rationalize their addiction. In this state, which can vary greatly in duration, many will see themselves. It may only last a short time, a few days to a few weeks, however, in others, it may last for many months or years. As long as the person can see this, they will be able to focus. If they fail to see the truth they will relapse and have to start over.

Through therapy and support, they can accept the truth and move toward recovery.