People go through a process when they change their lives. When it comes to getting sober or any other significant life change, there is usually reflection about the change first. There is usually some sort of contemplation about how they are going to get sober, when, and where.
But even before thinking about change, there is frequently a phase someone experiences. And that is not thinking about it, staying in denial, and making excuses for the challenges they’re facing. When men and women are in the challenges of an addiction, they are likely to justify their behavior. They are likely to continue to make excuses for what they are experiencing.
Some common, unhealthy justifications for drinking or using drugs include:
- Life without drinking or drugging is boring.
- People who give up alcohol or drugs are never happy.
- Life is completely meaningless so the best thing to do is party hard.
- Those who use alcohol and drugs are very creative. Substances help stimulate artistic talent.
- My life is horrible and all I want to do is drink or get high.
- Substance use helps me deal with my insomnia.
- Drugs and drinking helps me manage my social anxiety.
- The recovery community is really full of Pollyanna-type people and don’t really understand the hardships of poverty, loss, rejection, or the illness of addiction.
- Life is hard and substance use is a way to manage the pain that life involves.
If you notice that you’re saying any of the above excuses to yourself, it might be a sign to consider getting sober.
Of course, recovery is a process. Likely once you notice that you’re making excuses, you might enter a contemplation phase. That is, you might begin to reflect upon the possibility of getting sober. One of the common experiences in the reflection or contemplation stage of change is high levels of ambivalence. It’s common to want to quit drinking but then continue to do so because of the perceived benefits it brings. It common to want to quit but feel like you can’t. The ambivalence of getting addiction help is very common, but it can keep someone stuck in denial.
If someone remains stuck in their justifications, there are some experiences that they might break their denial. For instance, sometimes when a person hits rock bottom, it frequently puts them in a position where they can no longer ignore their addiction. Perhaps they’ve lost their job, their marriage, or custody of their children. Frequently, when life gets really bad, justifications go out the window. There is no more room for excuses.
However, if you notice that you’re saying these excuses to yourself, you don’t have to wait until rock bottom arrives. You can at the very least get help to work through your ambivalence. You can do this with a mental health provider.
If you’re struggling with an addiction, contact a mental health provider to start your recovery.
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