Awareness Ratio

An alternative to the Hitting Bottom model is the Awareness Ratio.


A characteristic of addiction is that awareness, of consequences, fears of loss of control, pain, shame, and all the negative things of addictive behaviors, tends to increase over time. However, defensiveness, including denial, rationalization, and minimizing, usually increase at a slightly steeper rate. So as the disease progresses, the awareness/defensiveness ratio stays below 1.0.


There are times when either the awareness increases suddenly, like after a DUI, going to jail for drug possession, shoplifting, or a very embarrassing situation. Or perhaps the defensiveness decreases suddenly, as when you meet someone who understands your addiction and does not shame you for it. In these cases the awareness pops up above the defensiveness, and causes an opportunity for intervention.

If the addict follows through immediately with treatment and/or immersion in a recovering community, there is a good chance for recovery to begin. Usually, though, the “breakthrough” relieves stress, causing the awareness to drop back below the defensiveness, and the addiction continues as usual.


Someone who relapses after some time of recovery can usually look at the progression of the relapse. During that time, the awareness gradually decreased, while defensiveness increased. At some point, the addict has trouble seeing why a drink would hurt, or why they shouldn’t “celebrate” by bingeing or partying or whatever.

Awareness Ratio, see also: Acceptance, Delusion, Honesty, Unmanageability.

Updated 5 Sep 2015

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Addictionary 2 by Jan & Judy Wilson

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