Denial is a dangerous thing, it seems, especially for men who are actively struggling with addiction. Between addiction and recovery there is often the barrier of denial. Denial serves a purpose, though it would appear to be a negative one. In some ways, denial is a protector rather than an inhibitor. Dealing with reality, of any level, can be difficult to do. Accepting and acknowledging reality means changing. Even men who do not live with addiction to drugs and alcohol sometimes hesitate to fully embrace a reality they are not yet willing or ready to embrace. Here is where denial serves its purpose: essentially, denial buys a man time before having to embark upon the inevitable. Men living in active addiction face two startling inevitabilities: recovery or death.
Yet, denial can be extremely problematic because denial does not have an expiration date. There is never any telling in how long a man will stay in denial, when he might come out of denial, or what will happen once the phase of denial ends. Families, friends, and loved ones often hope that denial of addiction will result in the acknowledgment of addiction and the eventual acceptance of treatment or help. Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case because addiction is manipulative and denial is one of many tools to keep a man in the cycle of suffering.
The New York Times wrote in “Denial Makes The World Go Round”, that denial might be an important part of humanity as it may be “…critically important to forming and nourishing close relationships”. The article explains that denial is a necessary tool for living with the more challenging parts of human nature, the little components of “life on life’s terms” that men in recovery are forced to reckon with in their sobriety. Denial is too often seen as a deficit, a character flaw, and something to be shamed. As the author points out, in many ways, denial is an ability of evolution which provides “…the foundation for that most disarming of all human invitations, forgiveness.”
Is denial always necessary? At times yes, and at times no, the article argues. New research on denial suggests that it should be seen on a “broader spectrum”, the article describes, “…from benign inattention to passive acknowledgment to full-blown, willful blindness…”. Seeing denial with a range of functionality, rather than within a good or bad dichotomy helps bring clarity to those dealing with others who are in denial.
If you or a man in your life are ready to break the pattern of denial and seek help for an addiction, call Tree House Recovery today. Our programs in Portland, Oregon are designed to meet the individual needs of each client. By creating sustainable change, men find freedom from addiction, building a life of sustainable recovery. Call (503) 850-2474 today for more information.