We all have a defense mechanism that helps us through life. This mechanism is responsible to save us in dangerous situations. So it is not a surprise that we use them when we feel we are facing danger or an attack. However, the problem arises from the fact that the perception of danger we cultivate in ourselves through the time changes from one person to another. For example, jumping from a high bridge in a bungee jumping adventure is fun for one and an unacceptable dangerous situation for another.
This idea of what is danger goes beyond seemingly adventurous activities and stretches to behavior, and naturally that is subject to interpretation too. So, bingeing on alcohol or doing drugs in a party with friends can be justified as an action that is fun as long is it is not an everyday thing and only happening once in a while with friends. This is our defense mechanism at work, defending our action.
Justification of what we do is the most common use of our defense mechanism that we employ to show our activity is normal. This is the most common behavior among drug users and alcoholics.
In those struggling with substance abuse, Denial is the first self-defense mechanism used to defend drinking or drug use from “negative attacks”.
Actions that are easily contributed to the use of drugs or alcohol by others are defended by shifting blame, which is pointing to various reasons being responsible for those actions and trying to convince others that the negative actions and consequences experienced have nothing to do with the use of the substance.
Other self-defense mechanisms in addiction are Regression, Compartmentalization, Repression, and Rationalization.
Regression is when the individual refuses to take responsibility, avoids talking about the problem, and just hides from the truth. This is going back to behaviors when worked in childhood.
Compartmentalization is used to justify unsavory behaviors like stealing or ignoring family responsibilities and yet keep a facade of being a good son, daughter, mother or husband.
Repression and Rationalization allow struggling individuals to forget the negative consequences of the behavior and find reasons for those consequences.
There are other techniques used to defend substance use, like undoing which the individual tries to undo a bad situation by a good behavior. A husband buying flowers for the wife after a bad fight when intoxicated is an example of this technique.
And of course, we all are familiar with the most prevalent self-defense mechanism, the one we all are guilty of, Procrastination. Procrastination may affect all of us in terms of loss of productivity, profit and time, but in those struggling with addiction, the consequences can be devastating.
If you are struggling with addiction, knowing what actions harm your chance of recovery can help you change those actions and potentially save your family, job, and even your life.
Treatment at Florida Center for Recovery
Florida Center for Recovery provides comprehensive addiction treatment offering medically-assisted detox, individual, group and intensive family therapy through inpatient care. Our therapeutic treatment comprises of evidence-based and an array of complementary holistic therapies.
If you or a loved one is struggling with substance addiction and would like to explore treatment options, feel free to give us a call at (800) 851-3291