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What Are Defense Mechanisms?

What Are Defense Mechanisms?

Defense mechanisms are used by people to distance themselves from feelings and reality in which they don’t want to look. There are are a number of defense mechanisms which exact a desired result. A defensive person may not be aware as to why they sometimes react in the extreme.   

Denial, for those in recovery for an addiction, may be one of the first defense mechanisms of which you learn. Did you ever say, I’m under a lot of stress and just need an extra glass or two at night. The thing is, you might have drank a few extra every night. Then the entire bottle began to be drained further and further as your disease progressed.  

As you slowly begin to examine behaviors and actions in recovery, other defense mechanisms you may have used can come into focus. When things in life got really hard, and you just couldn’t deal, you might have stayed in bed all day, refusing to engage in regular daily activities. This defense mechanism is called regression. It’s when you pull away from life.

We’ve all acted out at one time or another, especially when we were children. Turning into teenagers came with an upshot of acting out behavior, as is generally expected. When acting out as an adult becomes extreme or irrational, it’s time to take stock. What is really going on? In recovery, we may carry on with over-the-top reactions and behaviors until we become aware of them. For example, our anger can feel self-justified—he had it coming. In recovery we learn why we are afraid to let someone know that we are angry with them, without slamming the front door, or breaking a plate.  

Let’s say you suffer a really hard loss, like losing a friend to cancer or one of your beloved pets dies. One way to defend yourself against feeling the grief is to clean out the garage or the house, vacuum and dust every square inch. Sometimes our minds can’t take in all that life deals us and we find ways to defend ourselves. It is important to understand your learned defense behaviors, because they alienate people, and you may come to understand that you don’t need them anymore. You can become comfortable with your feelings and not feel you have to defend yourself.  

Serenity Oaks provides an intensive 5 week program to support your sobriety and recovery from addiction. We aim to provide a space where you can find out how and why you have struggled with addiction. Our therapeutic and medical support are just one of the tools we provide to help set you up for success in recovery. Call us to find out how we can help you get started: 844-396-8526.  

Serenity Oaks Wellness Center