Defense Mechanisms of the Addicted

Common Defense Mechanisms of the Addicted

Human instinct kicks in when people want protection from painful situations or circumstances, particularly during active addiction. Recovery is a way to hide the true self and prevent others from getting close. Defense mechanisms kick in to keep the person addicted and away from recovery. Learn how to identify the common defense mechanisms are and how to avoid the pitfalls.


Common Defense Mechanisms

The following are common defense mechanisms people use when addicted to drugs or alcohol to keep the person addicted.


Acting innocent. A person will act naive or sweet to avoid confrontation by others who may question addiction


Acting helpless or stupid. Asking questions or appearing innocent to avoid responsibility for actions


Withdrawal. A person will try to avoid confrontation by remaining quiet and avoiding others. This is done to keep others from questioning behavior or actions as a result of addiction.


Manipulation. Playing upon others to create an advantage for the person with addiction becomes a game throughout the journey of active addiction.


Projection. Accusing someone of thoughts and behaviors a person may want to hide rather than face reality.


Sarcasm. Making bitter remarks to hide one’s true feelings can become the normal way of responding to people who engage the person in conversation.


Intimidation. Threatening or screaming at others is used as a tactic to scare people away and avoid confrontation over addiction.


Silliness. Laughing or joking to cover up true feelings. Humor is used as a cover for difficult situations or feelings.


Minimizing. A person will gloss over a problem and act as though it is not of significant concern.


Denial. Refusal to acknowledge or believe an obvious truth can keep a person in addiction longer than necessary. When denial is turned into acceptance, a person may be finally ready to receive help.


Argumentativeness. Debating and questioning other people’s thoughts or behaviors help keep the focus off the person with addiction and back on others.


Seduction. A person with addiction will act flirtatious or alluring to avoid confrontation over abuse of drugs or alcohol. May come across as over sexualized behavior.


Intellectualizing. A sophisticated explanation for things may be created by using one’s head and not the heart. The focus on knowledge and information will be used to override emotion as a buffer to dealing with ramifications of addiction.


Evasion. Changing the subject or talking too much about something unrelated keeps the focus off the person with addiction and on other things which don’t matter as a matter of avoidance.


A tough reality check is needed when uses defenses. A defense is used to keep others at arm’s length. Putting down defenses takes active, focused and intentional work to accept full responsibility for behavior and thoughts. A person must be willing to make oneself vulnerable in the short-term to stay emotionally healthy for the long-term.


Defense mechanisms are coverups for the reality of addiction. If you are in denial or using defense mechanisms, it may be time to drop the act and get serious about recovery. Help is available. With the right resources and tools, the Villa can help you face recovery and kick addiction for good.