Alcohol Abuse and Denial

For a person with alcoholism and substance abuse one of the hardest steps in reaching recovery is overcoming the denial, rationalisation and justification which almost ever person will inevitably experience. The need for alcohol and the addiction is so overpowering that the addict will try in every way to rationalise their behaviour and habits. Even if the implications are evident to everyone around them. By ignoring the real problems at hand and the disastrous effects it is having on their lives. Alcoholics are able to avoid what is actually happening. This denial worsens the negative effects of addiction as it is preventing the individual from seeking help and acknowledging the reality of their situation.

Negative Consequences

Not recognising the damaging amount they drink. Ignoring the negative consequences from their drinking. Arguing that family and friends are over emphasising the problem and blaming their own problems with drinking on others, are all tell tale signs of denial in relation to alcoholism.

Whilst problems arise in every individual’s life, if someone is rationalising obvious alcohol-related problems, lying about them or avoiding the subject totally when there is an evident pattern of deterioration due to drinking, alcoholism may very well be an issue. If there is no problem, there will be no need to lie or make excuses.

Excuses – Rationalisation

There are five, very common, rationalisations or excuses for alcohol abuse that an addict is likely to make. Firstly, “I can stop drinking whenever I want to”. This may be true for the majority of individual. For an addict it is just an excuse to continue drinking and inhibiting them from coming to the realisation that they cannot stop. Claiming that they can stop drinking at any point in time will make them feel as if they have control over the issue when in fact they are just avoiding the facts that are directly opposing this.


A second rationalisation can be “I don’t drink by myself or drink every day, therefore I can’t be an alcoholic”. Alcoholism isn’t about drinking alone or the amount that you drink. It is instead about the effects alcohol has on one’s body or behaviour. If alcohol is causing problems in their personal life- at home or at work. Then it doesn’t matter if they are drinking with a friend or only three times a week. If alcohol is having a negative impact on an individual’s life and they are still continuing their destructive pattern then alcohol is an issue.

Another justification for alcohol abuse can be “I am able to still hold down a job and pay my bills so I don’t have an alcohol addiction”. This is used by a majority of people with an addiction. People often assume that to have an addiction they must be at ‘rock-bottom’; living on the streets and drinking first thing in the morning till passing out at night. This just isn’t true. One can be a high-functioning alcoholic, maintaining their job, getting through school and carrying out normal functions. However, the effects will inevitably catch up with them and it is just another form of denial to use their apparently functioning life as a reason as to why they can continue drinking.

“Alcohol cannot be a real addiction as it is legal. It is not like being a drug addict”, is another common way of denying an addiction. Although alcohol is legal it is still just as damaging, if not worse, than many illegal drugs. The physical effects that alcohol has on one’s body and health can be hugely detrimental, even causing death. Just because one can buy alcohol legally does not mean it is any less addictive or damaging.

Don’t Tell me to Stop

A final justification for alcohol abuse is, “drinking is my problem, and therefore no one has a right to tell me to stop”. This is simply not true. If an individual has an alcohol addiction it affects everyone one around them that cares for them.

If any of these signs ring true about anyone you know and love or resonate with you personally, seek treatment at an alcohol rehab centre immediately. Admitting the problem is the first step to living a healthy and happy life, free from alcohol.

The Haynes Clinic offers residential treatment for dependency on alcohol, drugs and prescription medication. We can also help with other addictions such as gambling and with eating disorders.

If you have an alcohol or drug related problem, please call The Haynes Clinic. On 01462 851414 for free and confidential advice and help.

Alcohol Abuse and Denial