Common Behaviours in Drug and Alcohol Addiction

Denial, Minimisation, Projection, Rationalisation, Deception

These behaviours tend to keep people addicted and result in relapses. When relapse happens, if the thinking patterns have not been addressed fully in inquiry, the patterns re-emerge upon relapse, keeping people from seeking treatment or keeping them in the addictive cycle.

Imagine (or maybe you don't have to imagine) that you are in love with someone you believe to be the most wonderful person in the world. You cannot imagine living without this person and firmly believe you need this person to survive. Your Mother sits you down and tells you that you must no longer associate with this person. She tells you that this person is destroying your life, that you have changed since becoming involved with this person, and that all your family and friends believe you need to break off this relationship before something terrible happens to you.

How would you react? You might tell your mother that she is crazy and that all her complaints about this person are untrue. (Denial) Perhaps you acknowledge that your person does have some little quirks, but they really don't bother you. (Minimisation) You might tell your mother that she and the rest of your family and friends are really just jealous because they do not have someone as wonderful as you do (projection) and that you may have changed but these changes are for the better and long overdue. (Rationalisation). Maybe you lie about how often or when you actually see the person. (Deception)

We use this analogy so you can develop an empathic understanding of what many addicted individuals experience. Obviously, the "love-object" in this case is the individual's substance of choice. The addicted individual may be seen as having an intimate or monogamous relationship with alcohol or other drugs and believe that he or she needs this substance to function and survive.

In the same way that people deny that a relationship has become destructive, the addicted individual may deny that alcohol or other drugs have become destructive despite obvious evidence to the contrary. The defense mechanisms of denial, minimisation, projection, rationalisation and deception are used so that the person does not have to face a reality that may be terrifying: a life without alcohol or other drugs.

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