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Addiction and Denial are a dangerous combination. It is sometimes fatal and no doubt that it is on and on and the denial is like not there because of no recognition.

The man cannot begin to recover if he does not accept that there is a problem. Denial takes center stage and it is perpetuated by other people who are around the person on a daily basis.What does it contribute to the using and how if at all does the person benefit.This is a story about addiction and how denial impacts on the alcoholic.

Addiction is a tragic drama played out in three acts by at least four people. One person cannot become addicted without the help of at least another person. The disease cannot appear in isolation, progress in isolation, nor maintain itself in isolation. One person drinks in a way that is completely unlike social drinking. Others react to the drinking and its consequences. The Drinker responds to the reaction and drinks again. This sets up a merry-go-round of denial and counter-denial, a downward spiral.

Therefore, to understand it, we must not look at addiction alone, but view the illness as if we were sitting in a theatre watching a play and observing carefully the roles of all the actors in the drama.

As the play opens, we see the man front and center. He is the subject of this act, and all others are the object of action. He is male between the ages of 30 to 55 of better than average intelligence, skillful in certain areas and may be quite successful in a particular field of work. His self idealization is often far higher than his self-realization.

As the play progresses, we see that this person is very sensitive, lonely and tense. He is also immature in a way that produces a very real sense of dependence. However, the the man acts in an extremely independent fashion. In order to conceal this dependency.

"A Merry-Go-Round called Denial."

The alcoholic has learned by chance or by experimentation that the use of alcohol has profound effects upon him which are psychologically beneficial. The addiction dissolves all anxiety, reduces all tensions, removes all loneliness and solves all problems for the time being. If a situation becomes unpleasant or unbearable there is the conscious or unconscious knowledge that a few drinks will relieve this instantly.

It is his psychological blessing and regardless of the many varied curses it may bring. The use of this substance becomes the most important thing in his life. Because of the enormous immediate benefits it brings to him, for the time being, it solves all his problems.

The Players

The alcoholic has learned by chance or by experimentation that the use has profound effects upon him which are psychologically beneficial. It dissolves all anxiety, reduces all tensions, removes all loneliness and solves all problems for the time being. If a situation becomes unpleasant or unbearable there is the conscious or unconscious knowledge that a few drinks will relieve this instantly.

It is his psychological blessing and regardless of the many varied curses it may bring. The use of alcohol, the addiction becomes the most important thing in his life. Because of the enormous immediate benefits it brings to him, for the time being, it solves all his problems.


The play begins with the alcoholic arguing with his wife and his friend. They are telling him that he drinks to much and he should try to stop or slow down. He disagrees and states that he does not drink that much. This is the denial part.The alcoholic actually does not hear what is being said to him about his drinking. The conversation is more like a one way street rather than an exchange of ideas. The alcoholic states that he works hard everyday to support his family, he is entitled to have a drink every now and then.

The friend states that he had to come and get the man after a DUI stop and accident and the car is towed away and the alcoholic ends up in jail for being drunk and driving.. The alcoholic states that the cops teamed up on him. He was not drunk.

The man's wife is defending him in this conversation but states that he should in fact stop drinking or at least only drink in the house. He does not agree and goes off into the room in defiance and denial to get a drink out of the sight of his friend and his wife.

After a few drinks we witness a profound change in the attitude of the man. It has given him a sense of success, well being and self-sufficiency. It put him on top of the world and given him a sense of omnipotence. He is now right and all others are wrong especially about his drinking. There is no one act or deed which all alcoholics perform while under the influence, but there is a continued revelation of irrationality, irresponsible and anti-social behavior, such as driving under the influence.

If drinking continues long enough, the alcoholic creates a crisis, gets into trouble and ends up in a mess. Again there is an infinite variation on how this is done. But the movement of act one is always the same. The alcoholic (dependent person) acts in a very independent fashion. He drinks to convince himself of his independence, and then the consequence of his drinking, he ends up in the jackpot once again. He waits for something to happen, ignores it, walks away from it or cries for someone to get him out of it.

Mr. Completely independent gets gets drunk and becomes a very dependent person who cannot remove or solve the consequences of his drinking. Alcohol which gave him a psychological sense of being a successful man, now strips him of the costume of independence and removes the mask of omnipotence. We see him as a helpless child.

Car Crash

Addiction Recovery


In this act the man becomes completely passive, and the object of the other three characters are the subject of this act


The first person to appear is one we might call the enabler, a guilt-laden Mr. Clean, whose own anxiety and guilt will not let himendure the his friend, the alcoholic. He sets up a "rescue mission" to save his friend from the immediate crisis and relieve the unbearable tension created by the situation. In reality, this person is meeting his own need rather than that of his friend.

The Enabler is usually male outside of the family, but at times the role is played by a relative. The Enabler may occasionallybe a woman. Professionally, this role is played by ministers, doctors, lawyers, and social workers, members of the "helping professions." Unfortunately many professional people today have not received adequate instruction on alcohol and alcoholism.They act in the same manner and for the same reason as the non-professional.

This denies the man the process of learning by correcting his own mistakes and conditions him to believe that there will always be a protector who will come to his rescue. The fact is that they insist they will never again rescue him. they always have and the man believes they always will. Rescue operations are just as compulsive as drinking.


The next character to come onstage may be called the victim. This is the boss, the employer, the foreman or supervisor. The commanding officer in military life, business partner or at times a key employee. The victim is the person who assumes responsibility for getting the work done if the alcoholic is absent due to drinking or is half on and half off due to a hangover.

By the time addiction begins to interfere with the man's job, he may have been working for ten or fifteen years for the same company, and the boss has become a very real friend. Protection of the man is a perfectly normal thing, and there is always hope that this will be the last time.

Yet as addiction progresses as an illness. The overprotection from the victim becomes essential if drinking is to continue in this fashion. The Victim in effect, saves the job just as the enabler saved the man from the crisis. In this scene we become aware of such an event has occurred and will not be the last.

What is Alcohol


The third character in this act is the key person in the play. The wife, the mother or the significant other of the man. The person in his life who is the center of the alcoholic's home. Usually it is the wife, and we are aware of the fact that this person is a veteran at this role and has played it much longer than the other characters in the act. For lack of a better term. We may call this woman, the provocatrix, or the provoker. She is the provoked by the occurrence of drinking episodes. She holds the family together despite the disrupting factors of addiction. In turn, she becomes the source of provocation and controls, coerces, adjusts, never gives up, never gives up, never gives in, never lets go but never forgets.

The attitude of the man is one that allows failure on his part, but she must never fail him. He is free to do as he pleases, but she must do exactly what he tells her. She must be home when he arrives, if he arrives. Another name for this character might be the compensator, for she is constantly adjusting to every crisis produced by addiction. And she compensates for everything that goes wrong within the home and marriage.

In addition to the roles of wife, housekeeper and possibly earning part of the bread. She becomes nurse, doctor and counselor. She cannot play these roles without injury to herself and to her husband. Yet everything in our present society conditions the wife to play the role of provocatrix. If she does not play, it goes against what society conceives where everyone goes when there is no other place to go.

Act two is now played out in full. The man in his helpless condition has been rescued, put back on the job and restored as a member of the family. This re-clothes him in the costume of a responsible adult. It has, however, increased his dependency because the consequences of drinking were removed by others and the entire mess cleaned up by persons other than the drinker. Which permits drinking to be a very real problem solving device of the alcoholic.

Drinking removed the psychic pain, and the persons in act two removed the painful consequences episode.

Lighted Bar


It begins in the same fashion as act two, but a new dimension has been added. The need for denial is now greater and must be exercised immediately. As the nature of alcoholism is denial of dependency and the person is now dependent. The denial must be louder and stronger. The man denies that he has a drinking problem or that drinking is causing him any trouble. He denies that anyone really helped him, denies that his job is in jeopardy, insists that he is the best or the most skilled person at his job

Above all he denies that he has caused his family any problems. He blames his family for all the fuss, nagging and trouble that exists. He insists that his wife is crazy, that she needs to see a psychiatrist, as the hostility becomes more intense hurls unwarranted accusations of infidelity at his wife, knowing all the time they are not true.

The real problem is that the man knows the truth which he so vocally denies. He is aware of his drunkenness and the resulting failure.. His guilt and remorse become unbearable for a person who suffers from a neurosis of omnipotence.

There are some alcoholics who achieve the same denial by stony silence and absolute refusal to discuss anythingrelated to the drinking episode. The memory is to painful. Some demand that the family remain silent. Others may permitthe family to confess openly their sins of commission and omission, which are never forgotten by the man orprovocatrix.The addiction and the denial of everyone in their own way

Within a reasonable period of time the family adjusts to whatever is their norm. In addition to the denial of the manthat he will never drink again. The others give similar promises. The Enabler will never again come to the rescue. TheVictim will not tolerate another drinking episode and the Provocatrix assures her husband that she cannot continue tolive under these conditions.

The entire verbalization of the situation is in stark contrast to reality. The Enabler, the Victim and the Provocatrix havesaid this before but did not act it out. the end result is to increase the sense of guilt and failure of the alcoholic, challengehis sense of omnipotence and add to his reservior of tension and loneliness.

If this psychic pain becomes unbearable, especially with the aid of other members of the cast, there is one and onlyone certain means of reducing the pain, overcoming the sense of guilt and failure, and achieving a very real sense ofworth and value. If act three is played out as described above. It is inevitable that at some point in act three, the addiction will take hold and thealcoholic will again drink.

This has become the one certain means of relieving and achieving a sense of well being. The knowledge of theimmediate comfort far outweighs the memory of what is inevitable and there is in the back of his mind the hope thatthis time he can control his drinking and gain the maximum benefits he once did.

So the inevitable occurs in act three--the man begins to drink. When he takes the drink, the play does not cometo an end. Persons in the sitting audience have the feeling they are watching a reel movie rather than a play. For theplay has suddenly returned to act one without closing the curtain.

If the audience remains seated long enough, all three acts will be played out again in an identical fashion. At the endof act three, the man will drink again. The play continues to run year after year. The characters get older but there islittle, if any, changes in the script or the action.

If the first two acts are played out as described above, act three will follow in similar fashion. If act one did not occur,we would not have the beginning of the play Denial Is A Merry-Go-Round" and the drama surrounding itwould not exist. This leaves act two as the only act in which the tragic drama can be changed.

Or in terms of achieving lasting sobriety, the only act in which recovery can be initiated by acts of volition bypersons other than, the alcoholic.

The key to this situation is the fact that in act two, the man is the recipient of the action and not the initiator ofwhatever happens in this act alone is the real potential to break the tragic cycle of denial.

Breaking Any Habit Even Drinking

Road To Recovery


If recovery from alcohol addiction is to be initiated, it must begin with the people in the second act who must learn thedynamics of the illness,denial and to act in an entirely different way. New roles can be learned without turning to others whounderstand the play(addiction and denial).Then the people must put into practice the insight and understanding gained from this source. They must completely understand denial and how it impacts on addiction

If act two is rewritten and replayed, there is every reason to believe that the man will recover.

He is locked in a phase of resistance to treatment(denial), and the people in act two hold the key to his recovery. If anaddict is rescued from every crisis. If the employer submits to repeated victimization, and if his wife remains inthe role of provocatrix. there is no chance in ten that the man will recover. He is virtually helpless andcannot break the lock, but he may recover.

If the other actors in the drama learn how to break the dependency relationship. The man cannot keep themerry-go-round going unless the others ride it with him and help keep it going.

The characters in the second act keep asking the alcoholic. Why does he keep drinking? Yet these are the verypeople whose actions assist the man in solving his basic human problems by drinking in this fashion. It iscompletely untrue to state that an alcoholic cannot be helped until he wants help.

It is true to state that an alcoholic will not recover as long as other people remove the painful consequences of thedrinking episode.

The Victim and the Enabler must seek information, insight and understanding of the plan to change their roles.It is imperative that Provocatrix enter into some kind of continuing program of supportive counseling or therapy,preferably on a group basis. If she is to make a basic change in her life.


In understanding the role of the three supporting actors in the drama, we must remember that they did not learn to playthese roles overnight. These people play what they conceive to be the normal roles that are expected of the in life.

They actually believe that they are helping the man and do not understand that they helping to perpetuate the addictionillness. This demands denial of addiction

The Enabler thinks he must not let the addict suffer the consequences of his drinking when it can be easilyprevented by a simple rescue operation. It is like saving a drowning man, it simply must be done. But this rescuemission relieves the anxiety, guilt and fears of the enabler and conveys to the addict what the rescuer really thinks: "You cannot make it without help."The denial becomes greater as the addiction grows

It reveals a lack of faith in the alcoholic's ability to take care of himself and is a form of judgment andcondemnation.The addiction is strongest at this point.

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