Not everyone knows how poisonous some of the street drugs are these days, but I can say for certain that most
drug users have heard about the risks, and all drug addicts know the risks. So, why? Why would someone who
claims to be seeking pleasure be putting their lives at risk. The answer is simple, Addiction! If you are willingly
risking your life to get high, you are an addict.

Do you even know what drugs you’re using? Are you sure? Pretty sure? Are you content to take someone’s word
for it, someone you trust, even though you really do know better? Grateful to your supplier for helping you to
pretend everything’s okay? Do you even care? Is addiction masking your judgement? Are you really making choices
or are you honestly out of control?

Addiction, like all behaviours, is learned, practiced, and refined from our earliest years. As children we learn very
early what addiction looks like and how to ignore it, or at least, overlook the negative outcomes. We are watching
as some around us misrepresent reality to cover up their shortcomings, and in turn, we learn how to distort reality
in an effort to make sense of our world. Most addicts have likely experienced some trauma, abuse, or neglect,
leading to distrust of others and further distortion of reality. The resulting anxiety and the absence of adequate
coping skills can lead us to create alternate realities.

“Denial helps us to pace our feelings of grief. There is a grace in denial. It is nature’s way of letting in only as much as we can handle.” -Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

Self-delusion, creating a story that we can live with, becomes our coping skill but that skill can ultimately lead to
our destruction! Imagine a brilliant young person wakes up in hospital after nearly dying from a drug overdose,
one of the drugs known to be the most dangerous, fentanyl, and claims it was just a mistake!

“Seriously, it wasn’t really an overdose, I just took too much, it was a mistake. It was the wrong dose, sorry to scare
you all, I’m okay. It won’t happen again. I guarantee that! I’m good now.”  –Addict in denial

There are so many kinds of denial, there’s justification, rationalization, minimizing, shifting the focus, avoiding,
distracting, blaming, pretending, claiming hopelessness, performing helplessness, manipulating, distorting, keeping
secrets, compartmentalizing, gas lighting, and even charming seduction!

This behaviour is completely normal and typical. Addiction is a disease of denial and escape. But if you’re going to
overcome your addiction you must, first and foremost, be absolutely honest with yourself. Recognizing the reality
of self-delusion is the first step to recovery. The biggest challenge in the beginning is brutal honesty. You need to
be honest with yourself and you need to be honest with those who can help you, your friends, family, and
therapists. For addicts, denial is a way to avoid reality and the ultimate consequences of our actions. It’s a way to
manage and explain our destructive behaviour and hopeless attitude. Addiction gives us tunnel vision and sucks the
life out of us, recovery expands our awareness and breathes back new life. As our recovery takes hold our
awareness grows. We begin to pay less attention to our fantasies and magical thinking and more thoughtful
attention to what is real and meaningful in our lives.

“The moment one gives close attention to anything, even a blade of grass, it becomes a mysterious, awesome,
indescribably magnificent world in itself” -Henry Miller