Alcohol And Denial – A Killer Combination

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Alan, 52, an accountant from Staffordshire:

Denial and alcohol kill people.

Denial is one of the strongest mental barriers to getting well and the fact that people don’t even know they are in denial – deny that they are in denial! – makes it extremely difficult to break down. It is this denial that kills people with alcohol problems.

Thankfully, Alan managed to realise his denial through the programme at Abbeycare but below we can see how strong his denial was just before he arrived.

In a conversation – that Alan has helped us create and publish to hopefully help other people see their own myopia – Alan tries to justify his drinking by making excuses and blaming anything but himself for his drinking:

Before starting the programme here, Alan said: “Well, my wife has told me to get help for my alcohol problem.

She said she can’t stand my behaviour anymore and it is making the whole family ill.

She is really playing it up. I know I like a good drink and a good night out with my mates, but my drinking has actually been made worse since she started nagging. I started house drinking a couple of years ago to keep her quiet but now she is counting up what I’m drinking, I actually drank less in the pub.

I work hard and deserve a drink at the end of a long day. “She forced me to see the doctor and he said I was drinking alcoholically and I should find a way to get well now. How can he tell that during a 10-minute appointment? How does he know what I have to deal with in my life?

He’d drink as much as me if he were in my shoes. I suppose doctors have to tell everyone they do everything too much. I’ve left the house and I am living in a B&B. I have just lost my job because my boss said I smelled of alcohol in the morning. He said I was intoxicated, and since driving a company vehicle was part of my job, he fired me. He didn’t breathalyse me, so I will see him at the industrial tribunal and besides, I was driving the vehicle on company property anyway, not the public highway.

I didn’t like him anyway, I’m much better out of there. “My wife is now telling me I can only see the children if I am completely 100% sober. My children are under 10 and it will be damaging to them if she keeps this up. I think it’s her sisters and mother who are pushing her to make me stop drinking.

Just because one of their husbands drank himself to death and her father was an alcoholic. They think I need help to stop drinking, but if they just got off my case I know I can do this on my own. I don’t know why she is acting crazy all of a sudden, she knew I drank heavily when she met me, she was the barmaid at my local pub!

It seems like everybody is ganging up on me and all I do is have a few drinks – what’s wrong with that? “I still love my wife and my children, none of us deserves this pain and they are all making it worse. But, I don’t need to go to any rehab, are there any books about cutting down that you can send me?

Anyway, you’ll find this hard to believe, I only drank beer in the pub – now I’m sitting in the B&B drinking vodka because I know when I see my wife she can’t smell it. Her sisters have said they will pay for the treatment but I’m not accepting that, I will never hear the end of it.

I’ve got my pride, I’m no charity case and I don’t really need the help.” Alan lost his wife, children, job and family network. He has the attitude that the whole world is wrong – except him.

  • He blames his wife’s concerns (nagging)
  • He is treating his doctor’s advice lightly
  • He blames his boss for wrongful dismissal
  • He has lost the roof over his head
  • He slates his in-laws for trying to help him
  • He is using the children to state how unfair and unreasonable his loved one is behaving
  • He doesn’t need help, he can do it himself
  • He minimizes the effect his drunken behaviour has on others
  • A book is going to be the answer to this problem

What is going to take get this man to face the reality of his situation?

He has got himself addicted to alcohol and he has to treat this life-threatening illness seriously.

It is sad to say, but when denial sets in there is one almost universal truth before things get better, they have to get worse . . . sometimes a lot worse. They call it hitting rock bottom, the place lots of alcoholics must reach before reaching out for help.

It doesn’t have to be rock bottom; a person can get off the booze bus at this stop. Millions of people have stopped drinking with the right help. Alcohol doesn’t kill people, it’s the denial that does. If you don’t believe you are an alcoholic then you will do nothing about it and keep on drinking. If a person accepts their problem and addresses it properly, their whole life changes for the better.


About the author

Peter Szczepanski

Pete has been on the GPhC register for 29 years. He holds a Clinical Diploma in Advanced Clinical Practice and he is a Clinical Lead in Alcohol and Substance Misuse for Abbeycare Gloucester and works as the Clinical Lead in Alcohol and Substance Use in Worcestershire. To read more about Pete visit his LinkedIn profile.