Dealing with Denial

Dealing with Denial

Denial is a common roadblock on the journey of removing alcohol from our lives. Defined by Merriam-Webster, denial is “a defense mechanism in which confrontation with a personal problem or with reality is avoided by denying the existence of the problem or reality.”


We often experience varying degrees of awareness when we’re in denial; sometimes we knowingly continue with a maladaptive behavior while outwardly defending it, but sometimes we simply have no understanding that we are engaging in harmful behavior and are unaware of our denial. Denial can also increase as alcohol use increases, and we may continue to drink even when it begins to negatively impact our lives.


Some common signs of denial regarding alcohol consumption:

  • Blaming other people or situations for alcohol use

  • Hiding alcohol use from others

  • Defensiveness about alcohol use

  • Dismissal about severity of alcohol use

  • Agreeing or deciding to reduce or eliminate alcohol use, and then continuing

  • Comparing alcohol use with others

  • Rationalizing alcohol use

If we find ourselves experiencing denial about our alcohol use (or perhaps someone else has pointed it out for us), there are a few ways to find our way back to reality. The first step is to simply listen to our gut, and possibly those around us, when they tell us that our alcohol use needs to change. This may be easier said than done, but one path to this is through practicing nonjudgement with ourselves: experiencing things as they are, without assigning good or bad labels to them. This is a gentle practice to bring into many different parts of our life, but especially if we are experiencing denial about alcohol use.