Justification is the effort to prove that our behaviors are valid or reasonable, and it is human nature to do so. In the field of psychology, this human tendency is related to cognitive dissonance. Simply put, cognitive dissonance is an uncomfortable mental state that occurs when our behavior doesn’t align with our values and beliefs.
To avoid the discomfort caused by cognitive dissonance, we strive to always justify our actions… no matter what they are.
Needless to say, in the throes of active addiction, we spend a lot of time avoiding cognitive dissonance. Although we have plenty of mental tricks up our sleeves, these four loopholes are some of the most common excuses used to justify our substance-driven behaviors.
Loophole #1 I’ve already ruined everything.
As addicts, we try to avoid, or not acknowledge, the consequences of our actions—at least until these consequences are severely compounded. Whether it’s losing a job, legal trouble, homelessness, dysfunction in the household or all of the above, drug and alcohol addiction progressively destroys our lives. Although hitting “rock bottom” causes some to seek the help of addiction treatment programs, others justify continued addiction with the perceived irreparable damage they’ve caused.
Loophole #2 I don’t deserve a happy, healthy life.
According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, roughly 50% of individuals diagnosed with a mental health disorder are also affected by substance misuse. A co-occurring diagnosis isn’t a loophole for addiction, but feeling undeserving of a happy, healthy life due to mental health symptoms can be. For example, needing a few drinks to alleviate anxiety or self-medicating to combat episodes of depression can be viewed as loopholes for continued use.
Loophole #3 Now I can handle it.
This justification is a loophole for relapse, as well as active addiction. When someone feels that their life is now more manageable—perhaps, due to a period of sobriety or fixing certain problems while in active addiction—they may justify using again or continuing to use. Unfortunately, the progressive nature of addiction quickly disproves this rationale.
Loophole #4 For me, it’s just normal life.
For some, addiction is a solitary issue. For others, however, addiction may be shared with friends, family members or romantic partners. These individuals tend to justify their behaviors because they simply feel like part of the fabric of a relationship or social agenda. Even if someone believes that their own addiction may be a problem, they can turn around and justify their dependency by referring to the “norms” of everyday social life.
If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, closing the loopholes of active addiction may be imperative before seeking rehab treatment. In reality, we can rebuild our lives. Addiction is progressively destructive. We do deserve to be happy and healthy, and active addiction is not a normal, fulfilling human existence.
It’s not too late to introduce healthy habits and practices into your day-to-day life. There are tools that have proven successful in assisting patients in developing new routines and feeling more in control of their addictions. The first step to overcoming this pattern is to admit that help is needed. Call us for free at . You can also check your insurance coverage online now.
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