Most addicts and alcoholics don’t want to believe that they are addicted until they’ve had enough of the pain and suffering. They are in denial and regardless of what you say or do, they will rationalize in their head that everything is alright.
If you have a loved one suffering from addiction, you’ve probably tried convincing them to seek help to no avail. Denial is, unfortunately, the reality of most addicts lives as they may find it difficult to admit there is a problem until they’ve had enough. This can be a strong barrier that holds people back from entering addiction treatment, sometimes until its too late.
Most addicts and alcoholics will rationalize their addiction and delay treatment as long as denial persists. Denial is a powerful coping mechanism that addicts often underestimate until they are neck deep into their addiction.
Denial in Addiction Breeds Illusion
An addict’s reality is distorted by substance abuse and they often blame others for their problems or downplay people’s genuine concern. Irrespective of the form of addiction someone might be facing, denial delays recovery.
The longer you ignore the problem (addiction), the more dangerous it gets as it grows and grows in severity. Generally, people struggling with addiction exhibit certain addictive behaviors in denial. These include:
Self-deception: As a way of coping with their situation, substance abusers often find a way to convince themselves that their addiction is not as severe as people think. This is a powerful denial mechanism as this tends to worsen the situation.
Playing the blame game: People get into substance abuse for various reasons which are mostly unjustifiable. For some, it is as a result of a heartbreak which they experienced while for others, they resorted to drug and alcohol to soothe a trauma which someone had put them through. People suffering from addiction often pass the blame to past situations or people in their lives. By blaming others, they excuse themselves for their addiction problems as a way of avoiding reality.
Rationalizing: Drug and alcohol abuse is an unjustifiable act. When you are quick to create a rational explanation for your addiction, you are living in denial.
Minimizing the problem: Acting as if you are exaggerating the problem is another common behavior people suffering from addiction exhibit whenever you attempt to speak with them about it. If your loved one is always comparing himself with others who are taking more addictive substances than he does, he is only trying to cope with the problem. Regardless if it’s a small drinking problem or shooting heroin daily, addiction is what it is – a harmful habit.
Avoiding people who will disapprove of substance abuse: Most addicts tend to keep away from people, especially from those they feel are “pestering” them to seek help. This behavior only permits the individual to continue in their addiction without any checks or restrictions.
Getting Your Loved One to Face Denial in Addiction
As a primary mechanism by which addicts cope with drug addiction or alcoholism, it is hard to separate denial from addiction. Therefore, denial has to be understood in order to help the victim.
Misconceptions about chemical dependence not being a disease have contributed to harmful stereotypes about drug and alcohol addiction. This gives credence to the fact that a state of addiction denial can extend to the families and friends of people suffering from it. This is the reason why your loved one might require intervention in order to accept help. While intervention, in this case, may include negative results such as loss of employment or other real-life consequences, it’s necessary to save an addict’s life.
Addicts often underestimate their ability to get sober and stay sober. Drug treatment and substance abuse therapy is a viable means of uncovering these abilities, getting the individual to accept reality and working their way through full recovery. At Recreate Life Counseling, we employ evidence-based denial management practices to help addicts see the truth about their situation. Our addiction treatment professionals also help individuals with chemical dependence problems to develop the confidence they need to begin treatment.
Available treatment options include intensive outpatient treatment, day/night treatment with community housing, cognitive behavioral therapies, individual therapy, and group therapy among others. You do not have to hit rock-bottom before seeking help. Our empathetic team is also trained to help you manage any symptom of Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome which may come up in the course of your treatment.
We are available around-the-clock to help you plan and begin your journey to a sober life. If you wish to know more about how our addiction treatment programs work, then please contact us for a confidential assessment.