Denial is a natural part of recovery that takes a lot of strength and support to overcome. For those currently seeking recovery, denial will be one of your first and most difficult hurdles. If you have suffered from drugs or alcohol addiction giving up your drug of choice takes courage and commitment. Admitting and accepting that they make you powerless will be the foundation of your recovery.

Your addiction is the problem, not the solution

Denial stems from the lack of readiness to change your lifestyle. No one willingly wants to admit they are powerless but it is the first step to a successful recovery. Although it may be easier to pretend to be normal or that things aren’t that bad it will only hinder you going forward in recovery.

Your first defense for fear, confusion or shame will be denial. Whether you do it through rationalizing or minimizing your addiction will it not change the fact that you are addicted and need help. Some other forms of denial include blaming others in order to avoid responsibility in the role we play in our own addiction.

Here are some familiar phrases of denial see if these are phrases you find yourself using:

  • I can handle this
  • I’m good
  • I don’t want/need help
  • This doesn’t matter
  • I don’t care
  • It’s not bad/ It could be worse
  • I don’t have a problem anymore
  • This doesn’t bother me
  • If it weren’t for…I wouldn’t…


How to break free of denial

According to the big book, denial is the first stage of acceptance on the road to recovery. To overcome this you must admit you have a problem. In doing so you will also admit that you have been covering up your problems and relinquish its power over you.

After admitting your denial you must also accept that you are the one that needs to change. Often in denial, we blame others for our misfortune and rarely ourselves. For things to change we need to be the ones who put forth the effort and dedication to make them happen.

While real change is dependent on you and the choices you make you are not alone. Don’t be afraid to reach out to others when you are in need. There is a great deal of value in learning from the experiences of others. In your darkest times, they can provide support, strength, and hope.

How to deal with the return of denial in your recovery

As you gain more experience in recovery you understand recovery is a lifelong process. The fight to overcome denial never truly goes away. We are not perfect and no matter how many years you may have in recovery you are still liable to relapse.

If you begin to notice signs of denial returning be sure to shift your focus onto overcoming it. Engage in more recovery practices like attending more meetings or becoming more involved in your fellowship. You can also set time aside to meditate, pray, or journal your thoughts. Denial must be addressed in a constructive manner. It is not an easy road but once you’ve overcome its nature you can enjoy the benefits of a sober life.

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