Defense Mechanisms that Addicts Use To Avoid Treatment

Defense mechanisms are a deep part of the human psyche. Man has an intuitive sense of self-preservation that relies on defense mechanisms to excuse mistakes, shift blame for problems, and avoid responsibility for difficult situations. These defense mechanisms play an important role in man’s ability to cope with the world around him, but they devolve into unjustified rationalizations when alcoholics and drug addicts fall back on them to justify their substance abuse. See how defense mechanisms and addiction often go hand-in-hand, along with denial and substance abuse.

Denial and Substance Abuse – The Enemy of Recovery

woman with hair covering face defense mechanisms and addiction

Denial is the most common defense mechanism seen in alcoholics and drug addicts. When challenged with evidence that they are substance abusers, alcoholics’ and addicts’ first response is often a denial that they have a substance abuse problem. Denying the existence of a problem does not make the problem go away, but it is easier than acknowledging that a problem exists. If an addict convinces himself that he has no problem, he can simply continue down a path of substance abuse rather than following the more difficult course of recovery and rehab. Work and family stress are also common defense mechanisms for alcohol and drug use. A substance abuser might argue that he has so many problems at home or at work that he needs alcohol or drugs to unwind and relax at the end of the day. The sad reality is that alcohol and drugs only increase that stress by further keeping the alcoholic or addict from solving the real source of the problem.

Seeking Treatment is Important

Boredom and an inability to have fun apart from using drugs or alcohol are common excuses for individuals both to avoid rehab and recovery, and to justify a relapse after a rehab and recovery program has begun. The lives of substance abusers become so narrowly focused on alcohol or drugs that they forget how to enjoy themselves unless they are intoxicated. Rehab and addiction treatment programs will increasingly focus on giving new ideas for fulfilling activities to addicts who have forgotten how to entertain themselves while they are sober.Alcoholics and drug addicts are adept at using many other defense mechanisms when faced with the reality of their substance abuse. For example, they might become argumentative and shift the focus of any discussions away from themselves and onto an unrelated person or issue. They can elevate themselves above the community of people around them and ignore advice from friends and family, who they perceive as being unintelligent or unsophisticated. They can try to draw people into their own world of substance abuse. In all cases, the alcoholic or addict does everything conceivable to address every issue except the main issue at hand.

Getting Over Defense Mechanisms and Addiction

Combating and overcoming an alcoholic’s or addict’s defense mechanisms will not happen in a single meeting, confrontation, or therapy session. Often, people have to challenge an addict will multiple times before he’s able to come to terms with his denial and substance abuse problems. Defense mechanisms will arise at all stages of rehab and recovery and they can even keep an alcoholic or addict from experiencing real sobriety, even after he has stopped using alcohol and drugs for a long period of time. Recovery counselors and drug treatment therapists understand this challenge and will best be able to help an addict to get past his reliance on the defense mechanisms that keep him from enjoying a sober life.

If someone close to you has challenged your habitual drug or alcohol use and you have responded with any degree of defensiveness, you should understand that you are exhibiting a classic symptom of addiction. Contact the counselors and therapists at the Houston drug rehab, Last Resort Recovery Center at 512-750-6750 for a better understanding of the toxicity of defense mechanisms and addiction.