Denial is one of the main reasons why drug addiction and alcoholism are maintained and prolonged. Many researchers argue that addiction wouldn’t be possible at all without denial. If you’re reading this, you probably know an individual who refuses to acknowledge that he or she has a problem. It’s important to understand that denial is a symptom of addiction.
What it Looks Like
Denial is the refusal to acknowledge or admit truth or reality. When a person is struggling with addiction, denial lets them reject the reality of their situation so they can continue using. This can be very frustrating for those on the outside looking in, as they can see the consequences of the addiction clearly. Someone struggling with addiction and in denial can’t.
Denial manifests in several different ways, including:
- Minimizing: “I don’t think it’s that bad.”
- Blaming: “If you didn’t act that way, I wouldn’t have to drink.”
- Manipulating: “I’ll get help if you make the arrangements. If this doesn’t work out, though, it’ll be your fault.”
- Comparing: “Most drug addicts use all day every day. I just use it at night to go to sleep.”
- Compliance: “If it will make you shut up about it, I’ll do it.”
- Rationalizing: “You don’t understand how I feel. I need these pills.”
How Denial Affects Addiction
When a person is struggling with addiction, denial prevents them from getting the help they need. They rationalize their behavior, which means they have more of a chance of continuing their substance abuse and overdosing.
Even in recovery, denial must continue to be managed. If it isn’t, relapse chances increase greatly. Individuals in recovery may develop dangerous patterns such as hanging out with the same people they used to before rehab or thinking that their drug problem was never really that bad.
Some conveniently “forget” the bondage they were in and attempt to “drink like normal people” or use drugs “recreationally” after a period of abstinence. Denial of having a problem or denying the severity will lead a person into a worse state than they were before.
How to Help Someone in Denial
If your loved one is struggling and needs addiction recovery help, you’ll want to reach out immediately. Before you do that, however, consider the following points.
- Understand What it Is- It’s important to understand what going on in the mind of someone battling substance abuse / addiction. Knowing why they are in denial and what issues this symptom may cause can help you better understand how to approach them.
- Don’t Enable Them- Just because they’re in denial doesn’t mean you need to be. Don’t bail them out, pay their legal fines or buy them the substance they want so they can avoid withdrawal symptoms. It may feel harsh to stop allowing their self-destructive behavior, but refusing to enable them is actually a sign that you love them.
- Approach the Conversation Carefully- If you’re too aggressive or threaten, your loved one will likely pull away from you. To really help, be calm, non-judgmental and non-confrontational. Let them know how their addiction makes you feel and provide specific instances when their substance abuse has been an issue in their life and yours.
- Show Support – Make it very clear that you will be there to help if they decide to seek treatment. Let them know they are loved and their life matters to you and so many other people.
Treatment With Gracious Care
Gracious Care Recovery Solutions can help your loved one begin living a new, clean and sober life. We offer multiple treatment services, including medical detox, trauma therapy and group therapy. Our solutions can help your loved one end chronic relapse while helping him or her overcome denial.