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[ Opinion ]

Three Lies That Kill Recovery

Alcohol = Temporary fun with permanent consequences.

We have a disease that tells us we don’t have a disease. Substance use disorders are filled with denial, rationalizations, minimizations, and justifications. These are employed to reduce shame, suspiciousness, self-doubt, and feelings of inadequacy. The addict lies or minimizes to maintain and perpetuate the addiction.


The First Lie: I don’t need to change.


Confrontations or suggestions that someone needs help, are frequently met with resistance and denial. Gently, but firmly remind the substance user of negative consequences. Some people in the throes of their substance use are far too willing to sacrifice the relationship with you in order to protect the addiction. Slowly, over time, many people begin to soften and admit that they may have a problem.

“ I didn’t realize how sick I was until I got sober.” – This is good news but it can be the entrance into the second lie.


The Second Lie: I need to change, but I can do it on my own.

The second lie only gives the illusion of admission. It’s like saying “I have cancer, but I don’t need treatment.” This lie uses minimization which underestimates the problem and overestimates one’s ability to solve it.

First – You have a blind spot.

Second – Mental health problems complicate the issue.

Third – The physiological damage and psychological pressures impair your judgment and your ability to make the necessary changes.

Addiction is a disease filled with minimization and rationalization. I don’t have much of a problem-so obviously I’m not going to need much treatment. You know you have a problem; you are starting to see that you can’t take care of it by yourself. You move to the third lie.


The Third Lie: I can’t do it on my own, but I can do it later.


Stalling with intentions to do it later can kill your recovery. “I need help, but the timing isn’t quite right.” This is the yes, but form of resistance to treatment. Addiction is filled with clever manipulations, stall tactics, deflection, counter attack, and blame-shifting.

I’ll come if: (a common combination manipulation and stall tactic)

Treatment might extend your life by ten years-probably more.

Treatment might increase the quality of your life by 1000 percent-probably more.

Yes, but…

I can’t leave my kids!


The Three Truths or Three Acceptances


People who have been successful in recovery have come to terms with these truths. I have a problem. And I accept it. Set up a choice -not a command.

Permission: To never admit that it is a problem. I can’t see it accurately or solve it on my own. I accept that I need help. Once someone is defensive and resistant, then any help appears harmful, forced.

You may have to fight a battle more than once to win it. – Margaret Thatcher

Some acceptance statements that you hear:

Permission: To acknowledge that motivation levels change

Motivation: How little can I do and still get by?

A Proper Perspective: I have a problem, I need help, and I’m going to do it now.

For Maximum Success: This perspective permeates all levels of treatment, at all times.

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