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Denial

Denial is a way to cope and protect ourselves

Denial is a way of pretending that bad things aren’t happening, because the truth is too painful or too difficult to face. 

I can stop if I want to, I just don’t want to.

We may know deep down there’s a problem

It can be hard to accept that you may be losing control over your drinking or that you might need to think about changing your drinking behaviour, especially if it’s your way of coping with things or if you have been drinking for a very long time. It may be easier to think:

“I’m not dependent - I don’t drink every day.”

“I worry a bit, but all my friends drink the same as me and they’re fine.”

“I’m only drinking a lot because things are stressful at the moment. When things improve, I’ll drink less.”

If family and friends are upset and nagging about your drinking, you may prefer to smooth things over and avoid the conversation.

It can also be painful to face up to the problems and upset your drinking might have caused you or your loved ones. 

Denial can stop us from getting help or making a change because it stops accepting what’s really happening

Acceptance

Once we accept the problem, we can go about trying to find a solution.  

Acceptance is only the first step. But it's an important step in deciding about whether or not to change a harmful drinking pattern.

How can I move forwards and accept it, if there's a problem?

Learn more about dependence and problem drinking and recognise the signs.

Be honest about your relationship with alcohol: Understand the effects it has on your life - both positive and negative, and recognise the downsides like health problems, spending a lot of money on alcohol and relationship difficulties.

Listen to your loved ones and try to understand the effect your drinking may be having on them. Learn about ways to listen that can keep the lines of communication open.

"I thought my drinking was relieving my tension until my wife served me with a barring order. That shocked me into reality"

Read more

See our section How is alcohol affecting your life? for some questions that can help you to get a clearer picture.

You could also read How can I tell if I'm dependent on alcohol? for some signs of dependence.

Alcohol's effects on the body

Symptoms that alcohol may be affecting your health

Am I dependent? What can I do?

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