We’ve all been there before, right? We find ourselves engaging in behavior that’s not aligned with our values and we can come up with a litany of reasons why our less-than-ideal actions do, in fact, make sense.
Take Laura, for example. Laura knows she has a compulsive spending problem. She’s working on it…trying to get better, she tells herself. However, when Laura comes across a beautiful new purse (that is way out of her budget), she squashes the guilt about spending money she doesn’t really have. How? She rationalizes! “I deserve this new purse…I work so hard,” Laura thinks. “I needed a new bag anyway…the old one was an embarrassment. It helps my self-esteem when I look ‘put together,” Laura reasons. And on and on the rationalizations go.
There is really no limit to the number of ways we can rationalize poor behavior, substance misuse included. Here are some of the ways a person struggling with substance misuse can rationalize that drinking or using is okay.
- The “Life’s Too Stressful” Rationalization: I’ve got more problems than I can handle and another drink or drug can help me forget about life for a while.
- The “This Time Will Be Different” Rationalization: I just need to concentrate on controlling how much I drink/use. I’ve got this! Once I put my mind to something, I don’t fail!
- The “I Don’t Have a Problem” Rationalization: I can really stop drinking/using any time I want. And I’m still working a full-time job!
- The “I Earned It” Rationalization: Look how well I’ve been performing at work! And I really powered through that marathon after months of training. Time to reward myself!
- The “I’m Only Hurting Myself” Rationalization: It’s really nobody’s business if I want to drink or use. It’s only affecting my own body and mind.
The problem with these—and most—rationalizations is that they’re mainly just excuses. They’re ways of explaining away the blame or fault which, inevitably, dig us deeper into the hole of addiction.
If you are struggling with addiction, First Step Recovery can help. Learn more about our evidence-based treatment services!