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Alcoholism - Denial




Excerpted from
Playing It Straight; Personal Conversations on Recovery, Transformation and Success
By David Dodd

In a later chapter, Gregory Harrison mentions something very important. "By the time you realize you have a problem," he says, "it's an old problem." Very true for many of us. Drinking is such a popular pastime that the abusing stage is often ignored.

I rarely thought I had a problem because my friends were drinking as much as I was. We went out, we drank, we got drunk. Crazy things happened to us. The escapades continued, both good and bad. We rarely went out to have a drink or two. We'd go out and do it up. Maybe if I had been with people who drank a couple drinks while I plowed through seven or eight, it would have been apparent that my drinking pattern was different. Someone may have even brought it to my attention.

However, alcoholics have an uncanny talent of attracting one another. We support each other's illness. It generally isn't until the drinking problem is placed directly in our face that we address it, and that's the last thing we want to do. That's where denial commands attention. Alcoholism and drug abuse are the only diseases that tell you that you don't have them. King denial.

I was a music critic for quite some time. Backstage at concerts the drinks, and oftentimes drugs, were flowing. I'd go to the local clubs and bartenders would buy me drinks. My job situated me in places that served liquor. My instrument of abuse was readily available. Looking back, I can see I was at the disaster point for the last three or four years of my drinking. My life was falling apart. I lied to my friends, lied to my family and, worst of all, lied to myself. Trying to deceive myself was a continuous calling for me. I constantly cornered myself in lies, then tried to tap dance my way out.

I thought I drank because of the chaos in my life, all the problems with no solutions in sight. Drinking temporarily lifted the craziness. I soon discovered that the problems and the chaos surrounding my life were directly attributed to my drinking and, more directly, my thinking. Drinking was a symptom of my dysfunctional thinking. I didn't realize that. My denial blinders concealed reality.

I promised myself I'd quit. I promised a lot of people. I lied to them again and again. The cunning aspect of this disease is that it makes us do whatever we have to do to keep it going, to continue the pace. I kept trying to make deals with myself: I'll only have a couple tonight, I won't drive home drunk, or I'll only drink at home so I won V be on the road.

Near the end I was consumed with quitting. I would wake lip and promise myself that I wouldn't drink that day. I'd feel incredibly guilty. I thought every time I drank it would be different, hoping the outcome would change. I continued to drink, expecting different results. That's insane. It's ludicrous to conduct the same behavior expecting different results. It just doesn't happen that way.

My disease continued to talk to me, trying to convince me I wasn't sick-I was just going through bad times. It will change next time, I thought, things will be different. Nothing changed. The guilt was growing, the antics grew worse, the lies deepened. I handed in my work at the very last minute. My editors were frustrated. My mind was cluttered. The liquor flowed; I was fighting to keep the buzz going. All the time, the relics of pain and sorrow were taking their toll.

My life was distorted. The consequences of drinking had done me in. Still, the voice in my head said it would pass. Maybe I should try a new career, it said, or new friends. I was always blaming others for my own demise. My guilt, meanwhile, was astonishing, overwhelming at times. My emotions were shattered. I didn't know what to do, what to think. Drinking wasn't working for me. It wasn't the answer. Still my denial was winning. Denial was leading my life. I continued to live the style of devastation that I was used to, clinging to my old habits. It nearly killed me.

Tony Sales knows all about denial. Following a terrifying automobile accident, his doctors informed him that even the slightest amount of drugs or alcohol could immediately kill him. "So I rushed to my dealer and bought an ounce of cocaine," he says.

That's how powerful this disease is. Never underestimate the strength of addiction.



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