Funny how those excuses we used so often in childhood can become part of the alcoholic’s daily vernacular in adulthood. Remember how we insisted that our bad behavior was a result of some slight we’d suffered- “See what you made me do?”; or as a defense for eating all the ice cream-“I hardly had any!”; or as a retort when your dad questioned some deviant behavior he witnessed- “I’m not hurting anyone!” Children often deflect and deny using flimsy excuses to avoid having to pay retribution for bad behavior.
Likewise, an alcoholic, in particular a high-functioning alcoholic, will find all sorts of excuses to defend their addictive behavior and maintain the status quo. Vehemently opposed to ever admitting they might have a problem with their drinking, the high functioning alcoholic defaults to well worn excuses to avoid the day of reckoning.
In many ways the high functioning alcoholic can remain under the radar with their alcoholism. These individuals are often highly successful in their professional life. They tend to be intelligent and ambitious, and capable of juggling several balls simultaneously. Their high tolerance to the effects of alcohol allow them to blend in, even after consuming large quantities, not appearing to be outwardly drunk or hung over.
But as consequences begin to multiply no doubt a loved one will eventually confront the alcoholic, concerned about what they rightly witness as a serious substance abuse problem. This is when the excuses are deployed big time. Here are 10 of the most common excuses alcoholics make to avoid having to acknowledge their need for addiction treatment:
- I am not hurting anyone but myself. This is a standard statement based in denial of the fact that their addictive behavior is indeed causing harm to others, including his or her family members. They believe it is their life, their body, and their right to drink.
- Everyone drinks. The alcoholic will proclaim that drinking is a universal practice and that they are no different than anyone else who enjoys a cocktail. They may proclaim that they don’t drink nearly as much as other people do.
- I don’t have a problem with alcohol so the problem must be you. Denial again, but this time an attempt to shift the blame to the other party. This offensive strategy aims to disarm the loved one.
- I need to drink. Citing job stress or constant family demands as a clear need to relax by using alcohol, the alcoholic attempts to garner support for his or her need for the comfort that only alcohol can provide.
- You knew this when you married me. The alcoholic attempts to justify his or her drinking as some sort of inherent trait that was clearly visible when the partner decided to marry them. In other words, accept me as I am.
- I work every day, so I am not an alcoholic. The high functioning alcoholic will point out their ability to succeed at their profession, work out at the gym, participate in parental duties, stating that they couldn’t do those things if alcoholic.
- I can quit drinking whenever I want. Another common excuse is the claim that they have control over their drinking and can quit at will.
- Drinking is part of my job. When an alcoholic is confronted about their need for treatment, the thought of quitting is so frightening that they may state their livelihood depends on and must involve social drinking.
- There is nothing wrong with me. Denial of the physical toll that drinking is taking on them, the alcoholic will proclaim that all is well, ignoring the distended gut, puffy face, red-rimmed glassy eyes, and other physical signs of deterioration.
- I don’t have time for treatment; I will handle it myself. A classic excuse used by busy professionals who cite time constraints as the reason they can’t go in for treatment. Utter denial of the power of addiction is exposed when he or she states they can handle recovery on their own.
Tips for Convincing a Loved One they Need Detox and Treatment
Someone who has become dependent on alcohol is really no longer themselves. Their personality and their will have been sabotaged by the addiction, which is firmly in control. The denials that they have a drinking problem are just knee jerk defense mechanisms to be able to continue to feed the addiction, even though alcoholism is a fatal disease ultimately. The excuses alcoholics make are just accessible tools used to delay facing the reality about their alcohol dependency.
It is helpful to formulate a plan to help convince the loved one that they need treatment. Some helpful hints include:
- Do not confront them when they are inebriated
- Do not discuss treatment during an argument or while angry
- Prepare your thoughts and reasoning in advance by writing it down and rehearsing it. Be prepared for the excuses alcoholics make with calm responses
- Avoid accusatory language
- Agree with the alcoholic that you do not understand their problem, be compassionate and express your concern for them, the pain they are in
- Do not be judgmental; tell them they are right, that they are doing the best they can
- Consider a formal intervention
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Executive 7-Day Detox is a leading luxury medical detox program in Southern California that caters to executives and high-level professionals seeking help for an alcohol use disorder. At Executive 7-Day Detox we are familiar with the many excuses alcoholics make to avoid treatment, and our skilled detox team knows how to respond appropriately. Executive 7-Day Detox provides the ultimate in creature comforts and amenities during the detox program, ensuring a safe detox experience. For more information about the detox program, contact Executive 7-Day Detox today at (800) 381-0827.