Providing straightforward information pertaining to drugs, drug use & drug policy. The Grey Pages promotes drug-related literacy and advocates a system of viable and tolerant drug policies. This is my personal collection of commentaries, essays, tid-bits, and other such writings on everything ranging from drug use, drug policy and drug-myths, to drug-science, addiction, human behavior, and the workings of the human brain. I started this blog with a particular focus on opioids, and over the past year have found my interest gravitate toward the intriguing, ever-changing world of designer intoxicants (i.e. "research chemicals" or "designer drugs").

Monday, February 27, 2012

"Denial": A Tool of Convenience in the Recovery Culture

(Search keywords: addiction, denial, what is denial, addict in denial, signs of denial, loved one, treatment, intervention, family of addict, recovery, hitting bottom, 12 steps)


Thomas Wayburn, Ph.D. in a paper said; The term "denial" is a fallacious appeal to the authority of the treatment community in a dispute with a user who is insufficiently articulate to defend his values and motives. The term "denial" is an impostor."

The author can add to this his own experience; in which case the term denial has been utilized for its appeal to the authority and ideological dominance of the treatment & recovery community or the condescending onlooker, often in dispute with an individual who in fact does articulate his/her personal values and motives for using drugs, and in some cases articulates them reasonably. In many cases, this "addict in denial" may be a productive member of society who has thus far managed to use drugs competently and responsibly - with no bad results aside from being found out or "caught". It is in such cases which the only approach or intervention technique available to the treatment 'authority' or onlooker involves marginalizing the drug user by insisting he/she is suffering from "denial". The irony in this is that all too often, the condescending or intervening party him or her self is experiencing a state of denial; in the inability to come to grips with the prospect that maybe, just maybe, one might be able to use socially-disapproved drugs responsibly and incorporate drug use succesfully into their lifestyle without suffering disastrous consequences.. Intellectual honesty is not a strong suit with the typical drug treatment worker or addiction bureaucrat.

What is "denial"?

Denial is a frequently used buzzword of the addiction & treatment world. The term has no real meaning, even to the recovery fanatics who so casually apply the term to anyone and anything failing to conform with their very narrow doctrine of thinking. It has become a tool of the recovery culture for labeling virtually anyone as "sick", planting a seed of self-doubt and perceived powerlessness.

Convincing individuals they are delusional and cannot trust their own thinking leads many to submit to traditional recovery doctrine. Convinced of their personal and intellectual incompetency, they become dependent on recovery doctrine to do their thinking for them, and to otherwise dictate every facet of their lives and livelihood.

Not only is the term denial used to diagnose the drug user. Their loved ones are diagnosed with denial as well. Tragically all too often, vulnerable friends and family members submit to the notion that they themselves are afflicted with their own condition called "codependence", and subsequently turn their lives & will over to recovery doctrine (yes, an entire branch of the treatment and recovery industry is dedicated to the disease of "codependence", a disease which, due to its complete lack of identifiable pathology, has been conveniently emphasized as very much a "spiritual disease")

The label of denial allows recovery culture to reinforce the subject's self-perceived role as a subservient, sick person, and to emphasize their dominant status as the only party who is seeing reality & truth as it really is.

The diagnosis of denial serves to stamp out any opportunity for meaningful conversation regarding drug use. It is used to reinforce the dominance of recovery doctrine while minimalizing or disqualifying any other conflicting ideology - regardless of its actual merit - while avoiding intelligent or reasonable discourse.

Moderation and discipline do not exist and to believe so is a symptom of denial:

In our time, there is no recognition of such a thing as over-indulgent or excessive drug use. What once, albeit in a wiser age, may have been perceived as excessive drinking or drug use is now indiscriminately labelled as "addictive illness", regardless of the circumstance, and with no verifiable diagnostic measures to speak of. The disease of addiction means whatever the recovery culture says it means at any given time. 

The popular understanding of heavy drug use (i.e. addiction) has never minimalized the notions of responsibility and self-competence to the extent it now does. The idea that a heavy drinker or drug user might do best to cut back on their use or incorporate some self-discipline into their lifestyle is somehow unfathomable. Instead, those who use drugs or alcohol excessively are all sick and "need treatment". Plain and simple. No ifs, ands, or buts. To even attempt claiming personal responsibility and question the merits of medical treatment for such behavior constitutes yet one more "symptom" of the illness itself.

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