SoberRecovery : Alcoholism Drug Addiction Help and Information - View Single Post - Excuses Alcoholics Make
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Old 08-13-2003, 02:42 PM
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Morning Glory
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I HAVE to drink (or drug) for my work!
The addict insists that he will not be able to make a living or that he will no longer be successful if forced to "give up" the increasingly harmful and destructive behaviors caused by his addiction. He may regard the latter as "the cost of doing business." In the vast majority of cases, of course, his addiction has already begun to impair his work performance, his judgment, and his interpersonal relations.

You're not so pure yourself!
Following the adage that "the best defense is a good offense" the addict seeks to turn the tables and distract attention from himself by "attacking the attacker," i.e. the individual who attempts to point out to him the reality of his addictive behavior. Under the spur of necessity to defend their addiction as they are, most addicts possess a keen eye and a sharp tongue for the shortcomings and faults of others - even as they deny or are indifferent to those of themselves. Thus the addict is often almost demonically astute at exploiting the vulnerabilities and Achilles Heels of those who, wittingly or unwittingly, threaten the continuance of his addiction.

Trust me - I know what I am doing!
The addict, blinded to reality by his own denial, attempts to reassure those who have begun to wonder about his judgment, perhaps even about his sanity, that he is in control and that all will be well. He informs them that he is perfectly aware there is or may shortly be a problem, that he does not intend to let it get out of hand, and that he is or will be taking steps to control it.

I can stop any time I want to!
Unaware that his addiction and not he himself is calling the shots, the addict genuinely believes that he is choosing to behave the way he does and therefore he can stop doing so any time he makes up his mind. Unfortunately for him and for those who must deal with him, he seldom makes up his mind to stop(even though he most certainly could if he wanted to, &etc. &etc. &etc.)

I'm not nearly as bad as OTHER people!
An almost universal addictive rationalization. The addict compares himself to people who are in his opinion in far worse shape than he believes himself to be and concludes from this that there is no reason to be concerned about his own addictive behavior. Since there is always someone worse off than himself the addict feels entitled in continuing his addiction.

I HAVE to drink (or drug) to drown my sorrows!
The victim of a dysfunctional childhood or the survivor of a difficult life, the addict attempts to persuade others, as he has largely persuaded himself, that continuing to engage in destructive addictive behavior is a rational and healthy response to his problems - or that if he does not drink or drug, he will fall apart or behave even worse.

Now is not a good time to stop!
Another nearly universal addictive rationalization. "I'll quit tomorrow" is a familiar addictive refrain. The time never seems quite right to stop - even though the addict may be or seem to be perfectly sincere in his determination to cease his addiction "just as soon as I get through this difficult period." He may even convince himself and attempt to convince others that stopping his addictive behavior immediately would be a bad and counter-productive idea, and that the chances of success will be enormously increased if he delays his attempt to stop until a more favorable time.

It will never, ever happen again!
Following an unusually painful or embarrassing episode caused by his addiction the remorseful, frequently tearful addict promises those he has harmed that nothing, absolutely nothing could ever cause him to repeat such behavior. He may take the lead in excoriating and flagellating himself for his unpardonable sin as a demonstration of penance and a reassurance to those he has harmed or offended. Almost always effective in allaying anxiety and soothing hurt feelings on the first occasion of use, this defense rapidly loses effectiveness with repeated use as those whom it is intended to reassure become, usually with good reason, increasingly skeptical.

Nobody is going to tell ME what to do!
The problems caused by addiction are avoided or obscured by a heroic pose worthy of Patrick Henry("Give me liberty or give me death!"). By focusing on his supposed freedom to do as he wishes -actually the freedom of his addiction to do as it wishes- the addict sidesteps the more difficult question of the rationality and sanity of his behavior. Defiance and oppositional behavior are common defenses of addicts against looking at themselves.

I'd be OK if it weren't for you!
The addict blames his addictive behavior on his significant other, usually his spouse. He feels resentful and self-pitying about the way he considers himself to be treated and uses this to justify his addiction. Since one of the commonest causes of resentment and self-pity in addicts is criticism by others of their addictive behavior, and since the characteristic response of the addict to such criticism is to escalate addictive behavior, this process tends to be self-perpetuating. The addict is often quite cruel in highlighting, exaggerating and exploiting any and every defect or flaw the significant other may have, or even in fabricating them out of his own mind in order to justify and rationalize his own behavior.

Look at all I have done for you! or This is the thanks I get!
Another "guilt trip" designed to disarm or deflect criticism of addictive behavior. References to the hard work, long hours, job stress and material status of the family are common attempts to win sympathy and understanding for behavior that has become harmful to the addict and others.

I don't have time (or money) to get help!
Almost universally deployed whenever the question of seeking professional assistance or attending AA or other mutual-support group meetings comes up. If the addict does actually take a step to get help -usually as a result of external prodding of some kind- there is a 98% probability that he will not agree with the frequency, intensity or duration of the help recommended. Underestimation of his problem and the belief that it can be controlled by what others more informed about such matters know are half measures is the rule rather than the exception in addiction.

I'll handle it myself!
Another nearly universal defense. The addict finally acknowledges and even believes that he has a significant problem but is adamant that he can and will deal with it by himself rather than seeking any kind of professional or support group help. Because he does not yet understand the nature of addiction he supposes that recovery is merely a matter of will power, hence that it is superfluous or even a disgrace to ask for help from others for what he ought to be able to do by himself.