One of the first difficulties is the denial problem. The tendency, when faced with the alcoholic’s massive rejection of reality, is to want to force him to face all the facts right now. The trouble with this approach is that self-knowledge is often bought at the price of anxiety, and anxiety is a drinking trigger. What to do? Provide lots of support to counteract the initial anxiety caused by the acceptance of the reality of the drinking itself. Then, gradually, keep supporting the small increments in awareness that occur in the sober experience. It is always the temptation of a counselor or family to take denial personally, to think the alcoholic is “lying” to them. Remind yourself that the alcoholic has adopted this defense as protection against the massive pain that would go with facing the “cold, hard facts.” Its function is to fool the self, not the others. It is difficult but very necessary to remember that the denial of some particular issue is serving a useful purpose at the time, keeping overwhelming pain and anxiety at bay until more strength is available. The counselor must decide how much of either the client can tolerate. The question facing the counselor is whether the denial is still necessary or whether it has become counterproductive, blocking further progress.*104\331\2*

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