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Minimizing is the practice of discounting the importance of a problem, so as to make change seem less necessary. If something we do doesn’t threaten our health or functioning, then what’s the emergency? We’ll get to it later – provided it gets a lot worse. Minimizing is one route to procrastinating – another addicted favorite.

“I’ll quit tomorrow”, the person with alcoholism says, because really, it’s not that pressing. “You’re making a big deal out of nothing,” insists the addicted person– in essence, making his drinking your problem. Your overreaction, that is. The tendency of family members to react emotionally to the problem caused by others’ drinking just reinforces the addict’s belief that the people criticizing his drinking aren’t rational, and therefore not to be paid attention to.

In addiction literature, minimizing is defined as: “Discounting the importance of drug or alcohol use, and especially the problems it causes.”


  • “My drinking isn’t that bad yet.”
  • “I’m not that far down, I don’t need to give drugs up entirely at this point.”
  • “My family is exaggerating, the accident wasn’t that big a deal.”

Result: The minimizer fails to see escalating problems until it’s too late.

How we answer it: Present factual evidence of the consequences the addicted/alcoholic person has experienced or created.

How it ends: Eventually, things get so bad that even the minimizer gets frightened.

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This post belongs to Alcoholic Defenses