ONE MAJOR HINDRANCE TO RECOVERY FROM ALCOHOLIC AND DRUG ADDICTION
I am actively involved in homeless reform project and one of the major hindrances to recovery is denial. It is important to recognize that most substance abusers have some significant level of denial to their own problem. That is, they reject they have a problem. As we offer to help them come out of the problem, they say, “I am good. I can quit taking alcohol/drugs any time I want to. I really don’t have a problem. I cannot reach that level termed addiction.” Denial is a very powerful block that is keeping abusers from receiving the help they so badly need.
TWO OF THE MOST COMMON STAGES OF DENIAL
1) The blaming stage :
The person will blame everyone in their sphere of influence as the reason why they abuse a substance to exonerate themselves from personal responsibility and accountability.
2) Rationalization :
Individuals will tend to rationalize the use of the substance. Essentially such rationalization will include statements to the effect that they can handle the problem, or, they do not really see it as a problem at all.
WHAT IS DENIAL?
It is a form of unconscious suppression of personal responsibility for certain problematic behavior. Most alcoholics and drug abusers have a tremendous sense of guilt and shame about their behavior. They recognize how it has negatively affected their families and work environment. Therefore, it is painful for them to face their responsibility which can lead to emotional and physical isolation keeping them from seeking the help they so badly need. They often have poor communication skills. They may revel in self-pity and show a tremendous lack of accountability. They can also be quite egocentric and self-absorbed.
All symptoms above are signs of alcoholism or drug abuse and represent a disease state. These symptoms are caused by the destructive forces within the individual’s own body and by the warping of the thinking process that occurs through substance abuse. Therefore the process of healing must come into three primary areas. The three areas are summarized in Ephesians 4: 22 – 24
1) Laying off the old self. The person must stop doing what he does whether it is drinking or abusing drugs, sexual behavior, or whatever it is. Stopping harmful behavior is the first step towards getting clean and clear from the abuse itself. Ephesians 4: 22
2) Renewal of the mind.
Renewal of the mind is probably more important than step one. Most alcoholics, drug abusers, and addicts, etc have a tremendous sense of guilt, anxiety, and shame which leads to self-punishment and then self-reward, creating a complete addictive cycle.
Hence the need to renew the mind. Ephesians 4:23
3) Put on the new self:
This is the most difficult part of any major change unless you put your trust and confidence in God. Any victim of substance abuse should begin to act by faith according to God’s Word. Individuals must learn to act as though they were all that God created them to be. Ephesians 4: 24
It is important for any Christian volunteer/worker in this field to be wise and patiently insistent. We cannot give up on them but will do all to free them from denial however acute it may be.
By Dr. Pinney Muthee