The Top 10 Excuses Made By Addicts & Alcoholics

by pgh

One of the realities of addiction is that it comes with a sophisticated array of psychological defense mechanisms.

These defense mechanisms shield the addict from the reality of their behavior, as their actions continue to harm themselves and everyone around them. These defense mechanisms – what we would call excuses – allow an addict to rationalize their addiction even as their world crumbles around them.

Here are 10 of the most common addict and alcoholic excuses we encounter, and why they’re nonsense:

Excuse #1 – “I’m not hurting anyone but myself!”

To anyone who has been forced to watch a loved one struggle with addiction, you know this isn’t true. But to the addict, the right to self-determination is used to deny the reality that their behavior harms everyone around them – their family, their friends, and on many occasions even strangers.

Excuse #2 – “I just want a bit of relief.”

The excuses given by addicts often have a self-pitying and manipulative component. In the addict’s mind, they’re victims of unfair circumstances, and alcohol or drugs give them relief in a world full of pain. Any attempt to help them is an attempt to take away their only comfort in a cruel world.

This worldview allows the addict to blind themselves to the fact that their addiction is the very cause of their misery. This defense mechanism can cause the addict to react with indignation when their loved ones try to intervene and help.

Excuse #3 – “If you had my problems, you would drink/use drugs too.”

A twist on excuse #2, this again puts the addict in the role of a victim seeking relief from a cruel world that just doesn’t understand. But the truth is that we all have problems, and most of us find ways to deal with those problems without self-medicating through substance abuse.

This excuse blinds the addict from the fact that alcohol/drugs simply makes their problems worse. In fact, their addiction is probably a cause of most of their problems, problems that would go away if the addict could get clean and focus on daily personal growth. Playing the victim simply allows the addict a convenient excuse to justify their addiction.

Excuse #4 – “This is who I am”

Many addicts are unable to imagine their own existence without their addiction. This excuse lets the addict paint a romantic, self-pitying portrayal of themselves – a tormented soul doomed to a glorious end by a cruel world.

This excuse allows the addict to justify their continued self-destructive behavior, while allowing them to take a self-righteous stance against anyone who tries to help them – because if you really cared, you wouldn’t try to change who they are.

Excuse #5 – “I need to drink (or do drugs) to be social.”

Drinking can definitely produce some fun times in social settings, but this excuse often involves the addict completely denying the many times alcohol/drugs have caused them public embarrassment. It also completely ignores the increasing social isolation caused by their addictive behavior.

Excuse #6 – “I need to drink (or do drugs) for work.”

This excuse allows the addict to justify their addiction by twisting it into a positive thing. Whether they need to drink to network, get closer with the boss, or to entertain clients, the addict can rationalize their addiction as a “cost of doing business”.

This excuse ignores reality, which is that their addiction has probably already negatively impacted their work performance – a problem that will only continue to get worse.

A twist on this excuse is the “tormented creative type”, who “needs” their addiction in order to fuel their creativity.

Excuse #7 – “I’m not an addict, I can stop whenever I want”

This excuse involves pure denial on the addict’s part. There’s little logical reasoning going on here – the power of addiction simply forces the user to claim that they want to drink/use, even in the face of heavy consequences.

By definition, an addict is someone who continues to use, even when their use has negative consequences on their everyday life. But that doesn’t stop addicts from denying their problem, when facing the consequences of addiction.

Excuse #8 – “At least I don’t drink or use like he does, now THAT dude has a problem.”

It’s true, there is always someone more drunk, more high, more messed up than you are. But comparing yourself to others who are further down the spiral of self-destruction in order to justify continued addiction is denial at its finest.

The truth is that every alcoholic on the road to self-destruction has used this excuse:

“I’ve never been arrested for drunk driving”
“I’ve never hit my wife in a drunken rage”
“I’ve never been divorced because of my drug use”
“I’ve never lost a job because of my drug use”
“I’ve never had an overdose”

Of course, all this really means is that the addict hasn’t quite fallen to that particular level of destruction. Unfortunately, the addict also refuses to see that – if they continue down their path – all of these will eventually come true, and they’ll end up just like THAT dude.

Excuse #9 – “Everyone else drinks/uses”

Its true that we live in a world that loves drugs and alcohol. By comparing themself to the typical recreational drinker/user, the addict normalizes their abnormal behavior.

Of course, “everyone else” doesn’t experience the same problems and life consequences as a result of their drinking or drug use. If the alcoholic really wanted to be like everyone else, they would simply stop after a couple of drinks, like most people do. But the truth is that they can’t, heck, they don’t even want to.

Excuse #10 – “Life is pointless and I’m going to die anyways, I might as well go out on my terms”

Many alcoholics and addicts feel like their life is pointless. They use this despair to justify their self-destructive behavior.

Its a self-perpetuating cycle – the more they drink/use, the more their life becomes about getting the next fix, and the less meaning they find in anything else. The less meaning they find in anything else, the less reason they have to quit using/drinking.

The reality is that drinking/using lets you avoid the much bigger challenge of actually doing something meaningful or productive with your life. But once you quit, you can start to focus your energies on finding that meaning. That meaning, whether its a connection with a higher power, helping others, striving for holistic growth, or even simply finding joy in this precious gift we call life, is also what helps addicts stay sober for life.

Have you ever found yourself using any of these excuses? Or have you heard them from someone you love?

It’s normal for addicts to justify and rationalize their irrational behavior, but the fact is that every addict is lying to themself when they use these excuses.

You really do have a problem, and you really do need to do something about it. You may be scared of the future, and terrified of facing the realities of your life, but recovery is possible. However, first you have to be straight with yourself.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

kristine February 27, 2013 at 11:45 am

My fiancee whom i have been with for 14 years has been an alcoholic for the past six years, maybe more. I have heard many of the excuses listed here. I am now eight months pregnant and he promised that he was done. He went approximately three weeks to my knowledge without drinking. He said it was for the baby and the fact that i said if he drank again we were done. The tonight he came home drunk and immediately went to sleep after he said sorry which means very little to me now. I have been attending al-anon meetings for a few weeks and they say not to make any big decisions for at least six months and to be compassionate but i don’t understand how he can say he loves me and our baby so much yet jeopardize it all for a drink. I have lived so long with the promise to change only to be let down and now i have to think of my baby more than anything. I read falling off the wagon happens but how much should i put up with…

Ara April 10, 2013 at 2:41 am

I am a mom of one and pregnant with my second one, i struggle with consecuenses of my husbands drinking habits, and can only tell you how i feel about hearing your situation, not to sugest what you should do. But i know as a fact, that it takes sometimes too much out of a woman to deal with this, and having a kid who knows and has created a bond with daddy, makes it all ALL That much HARDER to take any desitions….sometimes…sadly and honestly…i kind of hope i would have let myself out of the situation when it wasen’t this hard, when it was just me…
Good luck with whatever path you choose for you, and now specially for the person who will make your life full.

Sandra May 12, 2013 at 12:18 pm

I know how you feel.. My partner has walked out yet again. All the excuses listed has been said.. The list of what could happen has. He lost his job his children his ex wife his home… Now we are following the same path again.. He was on the streets, the the Salvation Army with no money or job.. Took an overdose.. His step dad never helped him as he bought him drinks and gave him money for more.. When we got together I managed to help him he has a fantastic job good money a home etc.. But no.. He wants to be “normal” and go out for a drink.. But now he’s been drinking all day every for 10 days.. As he’s used all his money his step dad is doing it again.. He’s sleeping on his step dads sofa.. Not been to work either. Told his boss he’s having trouble at home caused be me.. IT’S HIM… I miss him but I feel calm when he’s not here ,, can’t suggest what you should do , it’s difficult when you love someone.. I’d like to say if your baby grows up seeing this the chances are it will think that’s the normal way of life and could follow the same path …

Joy August 27, 2013 at 12:41 am

Now that a baby is involved, PACK YOUR THINGS AND LEAVE! No one has EVER said, I have a great marriage because my husband is an alcoholic. Quite the contray, most marriage end because a spouse is a DRUNK. Cut your losses and find a new mate.