13 Jun Recognizing Different Forms of Denial

Denial is often the first barrier standing between an addict and getting treatment, and responding to this denial when you see it in a loved one who is facing an addiction can be incredibly difficult. And what many who seek to help a loved one overcome denial don’t know is that denial comes in various forms. It’s highly important to be aware of these various forms of denial in order to be able to respond to a loved one’s particular form of denial and work through that denial until receiving treatment becomes a possibility. Here are the most common forms that denial can take on.


Some avoid recognizing the severity of their addictions by comparing themselves to others who might seem worse off, thus shifting focus. Statements like “I don’t use as much as John does” and “look at how much worse Jane is” are examples of the comparative form of denial.


This form of denial is also called omission and involves the addict changing the subject of addiction, or avoiding the subject altogether. You might see someone who frequently exhibits this form of denial withholding information when discussing what he or she did last weekend, or abruptly changing the subject to avoid talking about addiction.


Some addicts reason through an addiction by claiming that their particular situation is different, saying things like “I was very hurt” or “I need this to overcome everything that has happened to me.” Uniqueness as a form of denial is quite similar to rationalization.


Rationalization itself can take on many different forms, with statements like “you just happen to only see me when I’ve been using” or “I can stop whenever I want, so I don’t have a problem.”

Global Thinking

Global thinking involves an addict using absolutes in a conversation surrounding his or her addiction. The addict might use statements like “everyone my age does this,” or words such as “always,” “never,” and “whatsoever.”


Some addicts will shift blame to someone else when a conversation about addiction comes up, blaming irresponsible parents or a particularly difficult adolescence. And while factors such as these are not to be discounted, it’s important to remember that shifting blame does not preclude the addict from needing to address the problem on his or her own.


Self-victimizing addicts frequently talk about their addictions as if they simply “cannot help it,” and might exhibit a type of hopelessness when saying things like “there isn’t anything we can do about it.”


An addict might talk about an addiction by minimizing how big of a problem it really is. You’ll hear statements such as “I only do this on weekends” and “it isn’t a big deal.”


And sometimes an addict simple doesn’t know that he or she is addicted. Or, similarly, an addict might deep down suspect that there is a problem but avoid making the effort to confirm whether or not it’s an addiction for sure, claiming ignorance.

Author: Chastity Edwards
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