No one chooses to be an alcoholic. Alcoholism is a disease. In their hearts, most alcoholics know they are in the grip of a powerful addiction, yet they feel helpless to combat it. This inability to control the disease often leads to denial that the disease exists — not only on the part of the alcoholic, but by those who care for the alcoholic most.

Self Denial

Although alcoholism is now known to be a disease, many people still hold the incorrect view that it is a behavioral problem. This widespread misconception may cause the alcoholic to feel guilt and embarrassment about his or her problem, which can contribute to self denial. Many persons who suffer from alcoholism exhibit similar behavior -concealing the amount they drink, hiding bottles, drinking alone, and so on. Yet, when confronted with their drinking “problem” they are apt to deny it altogether or make excuses for his or her behavior. While they deny their problem to others, their very actions indicate their own awareness of their addiction.


Clergy, doctors, lawyers, social workers, family and friends are valuable resources for the alcoholic. Yet, in some cases, these people unwittingly assist the alcoholic by covering up for him and denying that he must correct his own mistakes. When people make excuses for the alcoholic, the alcoholic is conditioned into believing there will always be a “protector” who will come to his or her rescue.

Denying Dependence

As the disease progresses, the need to deny dependence becomes greater. The alcoholic may refuse to acknowledge that anyone has helped him. He may deny that his behavior is causing family trouble. The real problem is that the alcoholic is well aware of the truth. The sense of guilt and remorse often becomes intolerable and the alcoholic’s helplessness in controlling his disease may be embarrassing to him.

Initiating Recovery

If someone you care for has a drinking problem, seek counseling immediately. A professional who treats alcoholics and their families can help all of you — the alcoholic and his or her loved ones — to help yourselves.

Early on, the alcoholic drinks hard and fast. Most often, he conceals the amount he drinks by not drinking in the presence of others.

If someone you care for has a drinking problem, seek counseling immediately.

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