What Amy Winehouse Taught Us About Denial and Alcoholism

What Amy Winehouse Taught Us About Denial and Alcoholism

It should be noted that these psychological processes may or may not be conscious processes. Denial explains why drug use persists in the face of negative consequences (Pickard, 2016). If they remain ignorant about the negative consequences of their actions, then these consequences cannot guide their decision-making. Erin is a Nurse Practitioner with 8 years of experience in midwifery and women’s health. She has spent the past 5 years specializing in the treatment of opioid and alcohol use disorders.

Enabling occurs when someone else covers up or makes excuses for the person who has a SUD. As a result, the person with a SUD doesn’t deal with the consequences https://ecosoberhouse.com/article/alcoholism-and-denial-helping-an-alcoholic-in-denial/ of their actions. What might seem like a reasonable expectation in some circumstances might be totally unreasonable when it comes to someone with an addiction.

High-functioning alcoholics: drowning in the river of denial

A professional intervention can be especially beneficial if your loved one is in denial about the extent of their substance use problem. In active addiction, denial can be a powerful dynamic for the person with alcoholism as well as loved ones, building up subtly over time as everyone goes into survival mode in order to make it through the next crisis. Denial can show up as defiance (“I can quit drinking whenever I want to”); denial can show up as blame (“The only reason I drink is because you …”); and denial can show up as deceit (“I swear I only had two drinks”). A professional interventionist has expertise in addiction treatment, family systems and what’s involved in encouraging an alcoholic or addict to enter treatment. During an intervention with a loved one, family members show love and support while setting clear boundaries around substance abuse and consequences related to drinking. Clinical interventionist Drew Horowitz explains that an intervention with an alcoholic is not a confrontation, a fight or an argument.

Brain damage from alcohol misuse causes cognitive impairment resulting in a lack of insight. Resurgence Behavioral Health emphasizes the importance of educating yourself about addiction and recovery. Understanding the challenges they face helps you provide informed and compassionate support. Take our short alcohol quiz to learn where you fall on the drinking spectrum and if you might benefit from quitting or cutting back on alcohol. It’s easier to acknowledge a problem if there’s a way to solve it.

High-Functioning Alcoholic Denial

Denial is a defense mechanism for people suffering from addiction, and it is one factor that can keep them from seeking life-saving treatment. It is important to recognize that just because you have realized that your loved one may be in need of an alcohol addiction treatment program, that does not mean they will agree. Coming to the rescue of a loved one who struggles with alcohol dependence may seem like the right thing to do, but it essentially allows them to never experience the negative consequences of their drinking. Sometimes, these groups of friends can reinforce the alcoholic’s denial, and may actually provide their own chorus of denial to support the person with the alcohol addiction. Many may wonder how alcoholics who have lost their job, their housing and/or family could not realize that they are alcoholic. The fact that they are able to function and, in many cases excel, feeds their denial and leads them to truly believe that they are not alcoholic.

Someone in the throes of an alcohol addiction may refuse to acknowledge the connection between their problems and drinking. Denial can become a sort of defense mechanism for them, allowing them to continue on this destructive path. Being dishonest or lying about alcohol consumption is pretty common with alcoholism.


Treatment may involve a brief intervention, individual or group counseling, an outpatient program, or a residential inpatient stay. Working to stop alcohol use to improve quality of life is the main treatment goal. Gather a group of individuals who care about the person’s well-being. Resurgence Behavioral Health recommends involving family, friends, and possibly a professional interventionist to guide the process. Individuals in denial may actively avoid discussions about their alcohol consumption or become defensive when confronted.

  • It also might mean admitting that they don’t have it all together, and their exterior (and interior) world is crumbling.
  • To learn more about the process and possible next steps for your family.
  • Many people with alcohol addiction grapple with guilt and anger, which can lead to blame.

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