The outside who views a person with addiction may think the behavior is irrational. Alcohol or drugs may appear to be destroying a person’s life in spite of continued engagement in the addiction. Dependence on a substance is difficult to experience for family and loved ones however there are psychological reasons why a person may continue to persist with an addiction in spite of negative consequences.
Justification for one’s behavior begins in a person’s mind. When life is falling apart due to substance abuse, excuses may keep the person from moving forward into recovery. Denial and cognitive dissonance provide a person with addiction the ability to explain away behavior which is detrimental to one’s own health. People can become trapped inside addiction for years without support to get past the justifications.
Some of the following ideas are ones used by individuals with addiction to justify using alcohol or drugs:
- Alcohol or drugs provide coping mechanism for stress
- Life’s problems are not caused by alcohol use
- Individuals who complain about use need to relax, enjoy life more
- People who do not drink or use drugs lead boring lives
- Giving up substances means being deprived of fun
- Risks of substance abuse are exaggerated
Individuals with addiction use denial as a type of defense mechanism to explain behavior. A person who is in denial has a hard time facing the reality of the situation and denial is a way to protect the ego. Denial can be beneficial in the short term for individuals experiencing grief or difficulties in life, it can become a trap which is harmful long term. Losing touch with reality may allow the person to engage in self-destructive behavior, seemingly without consequence. Cognitive dissonance suggests a person may be unable to see the reality of a situation, becoming entrenched in one’s own ignorance about the truth of a downward spiral and impending destruction of one’s own life.
In order to move past the destructive thinking brought on by denial, an individual needs to move past the illogical to the reality of a situation. This occurs when a person feels overwhelmed by the magnitude of one’s own problems in life brought on by drinking or drug use. Hitting rock bottom means the person is ‘sick and tired’ of feeling sick and tired. A person need not lose everything to hit bottom, rather it means the gravity of the addiction finally hits a person to the point it becomes untenable to continue down the current path. At this point is easiest to communicate with a person about avenues out of addiction including possible treatment options.
Contact us today if you need recovery resources about addiction. There is hope and healing on the other side. Call 800-910-9299 for more information.