Addiction Recovery

Various Defense Mechanisms and Rationalizations That Accompany Addiction

Various Defense Mechanisms and Rationalizations That Accompany Addiction
Written by Guest Author

If you experience something unpleasant or have unpleasant thoughts, you may try to detach yourself from the event or thought. This can be both positive or negative. It is important to identify the negative defense mechanisms that you may be experiencing if you are struggling with substance abuse.

You can find help in outpatient rehab in Los Angeles and other facilities.  Defense mechanisms may be happening unconsciously and result in more negative behavior.  



One good example of a defense mechanism is sublimation. This is when you choose to put your energy into a positive activity like working out or focusing on a hobby. We use defense mechanisms like this to positively remove ourselves in order to keep ourselves from making a bad decision like taking our anger out on someone else.  


Denial is a defense mechanism a person may use to keep their unwanted experiences out of their thoughts. Denial is a contradiction of reality. It is an unconscious process and by refusing to acknowledge or accept reality or facts, they can protect themselves from unwanted thoughts or emotions. An example of denial would be if someone has a substance abuse problem, but they deny it because they can still go to work each day.


Rationalization is another defense mechanism used to protect oneself from feelings of guilt.  Someone may rationalize by offering good reasons in place of the real reasons they are using drugs or alcohol.

When one is participating in questionable behaviors, they may acknowledge there is a problem; however, they will come up with their own reasons as to why they are making these choices. They might blame a stressor like work, traumatic experiences or grief instead of themselves.

See also  7 Ways Meditation Can Help You Recover from Addiction


Projection occurs when one assigns blame on someone else instead of accepting blame themselves. Projection can be positive or negative, but someone with a substance abuse disorder will most likely put the blame on someone else. For example, when confronted about a drinking problem, one might respond with “Come on, I don’t drink as much as Jim.” Projection allows one to move their negative thoughts about themselves to someone else.


Repression is when one puts unwanted memories or thoughts away in efforts to completely forget them. Although the memories or thoughts are not completely forgotten, this helps prevent stress that may come from these painful experiences. Unfortunately, these instances can have a negative impact on one’s feelings, actions, and relationships.  

For a person with a substance abuse disorder repression helps them to forget the results of their actions. When one cannot accept reality, they often turn to substance abuse, which in turn leads to more need to hide reality. This can turn into a vicious cycle.


Avoidance is when one stays away from places, people, things or situations that have anticipated negative outcomes. This is one way to deal with anxiousness or a potential reaction to fear or shame. When someone is struggling with a substance abuse disorder, they may avoid visiting family and friends who are unhappy with the choices made. This prevents shame they may feel and also allows the individual to continue to participate in the negative behavior.

Please follow and like us:

About the author

Guest Author

Leave a Comment Protection Status