Many of us look at the addicts in our lives and clearly see the face of addiction in everything they do. Unfortunately, many addicts don’t see themselves the same way other people do. In fact, with over 23 million people currently battling a substance abuse issue in the US, only a little more than 10% of them will ever go to treatment.
That means that most addicts will remain in denial of their disease. Their denial leads to damage to their health, finances and relationships. Because of this, it is important to attempt to get addicts to see their addiction for what it is and increase the chances of them getting treatment.
6 Signs of Denial
The first step is to recognize that your loved one is in denial. Here are six tell-tale signs of denial.
When the addict is confronted with their usage, they tend to get angry or defensive. This is because the addict realizes that they have a problem, but prefer to run from it. Addicts tend to view their addiction as shameful which makes any accusations offensive to them.
Addicts have an inability or unwillingness to face the addiction because they would have to deal with the guilt and shame as well. Instead, they make excuses about the stress in their lives or the reasons why they must use.
Most addicts believe that the only reason they use is because of their situation. You’ll hear things from them like, “I will get clean as soon as X occurs,” “I won’t need these pills once I start my new job.” This is just the addict attempting to rationalize the addiction as a normal part of life. As long as they can make themselves believe that it is normal, there is no shame for them.
Blame is used to transfer responsibility for the addiction onto someone else. If the addict can believe that someone else is the cause, they won’t have to face the guilt. Often, addicts will use the excuse of childhood abuse or troubles in a relationship for their usage. It is usually quite difficult to combat this mindset without help from a professional because the person blaming doesn’t want to listen to others; especially if it’s the person they feel is responsible.
The addict will avoid the addiction by redirecting the conversation or leaving in the middle of any talk that becomes unpleasant. You’ll also hear them say things such as, “I can quit anytime I want.”
A common sign of denial is when the addict lies. It could be about how much they’ve used, when they’ve last used, or if they are sober. In fact, the addict will lie about anything. It starts out as shame or guilt by hiding their addiction from others. This causes them to drink or use the drug when they are alone. Then, it becomes a cycle of continuous lying to get what they want. Eventually, they start to believe their own lies.
6. Refusing to Get Help
Addicts will attempt to convince themselves and others that they can get sober on their own. Others won’t want to get clean at all. You can’t make someone get help; they need to want to change their lives.
There are steps you can take to make the situation better.
How to Talk to Someone in Denial
Having the tough conversations about addiction are difficult. It’s a personal and highly sensitive topic. The first step is to approach them while they are sober. Trying to have this conversation while they are high or drunk makes everything more intense than it needs to be.
It’s possible that they won’t pay attention to you or they may become angry. The key is, don’t fret too much over saying the “right” thing because you won’t be able to. What you need to focus on is sharing your genuine love and concern for their well-being. Be honest in a caring manner.
A good time to have the conversation with them would be when there was a recent consequence of the addiction. Then, the issues are already fresh on their mind and there is a chance they are feeling remorseful for their actions.
If you can, try to find someone else to be a part of the conversation with you. This could be another person that has a love for the addict like you do. It is also helpful if you have a member of a recovery program or a professional with you.
Approaching Their Denial
Despite the negative behavior the addict exhibits, you need to remember that they aren’t a bad person. They are deep in an addiction and can’t see what they are doing to others. The denial has taken over.
Addiction leads people to act in ways that are hurtful to others. While it might be difficult, it’s important that you stay away from criticizing or blaming them for these hurts.
When you talk to them, address specific incidents that they are aware of. You could discuss things such as the broken promises they’ve made or canceled plans.
While speaking, it is important that you stick to using “I” phrases. Some common phrases include “I noticed,” or “I was worried when…”
Then, discuss the negative consequences you’ve noticed. Start with the things the addict cares about such as their family, friendships, career or other aspects that might get them to listen.
A lot of times, the addict is going to continue to deny the problem. This is normal so don’t be discouraged or amazed. Denial is a typical part of addiction and it isn’t personal. Try to remain as supportive of them as possible.
Stay in touch with the addict if they aren’t willing to get help. There may come a time when they are ready and you’ll want to be available for them. Your talk has planted the seed they need to start a recovery journey.
Getting Your Loved One Help
Maybe your loved one has already been considering the possibility of getting help. Deep down, they might just be waiting for someone to care enough to say something. It’s also possible that you aren’t the only one who has been concerned about the drug use or drinking.
It is helpful if you come to the conversation prepared with a list of local support meetings for them to attend. This way, if they want to get help, you can show them what is available locally. It’s also wise to advise them to get help from a substance abuse therapist or inpatient treatment center.
When you talk with the addict, have the name of a highly rated rehab facility with you just in case they agree to attend treatment. If they want to head off to treatment, be willing to walk with them through the process.
Showing love to the addict is all you can do to help. Hopefully, they are ready to make a change today, but there is a chance they won’t be. Accept the things that cannot be changed and work to show continued love until that glorious day arrives.
Contact Clearbrook Today
If you or someone you know and love is struggling with a substance abuse disorder, we can help.
For 45 years, Clearbrook Treatment Centers has been treating alcoholism and chemical dependency, while providing support and educational services to the affected family unit.
If you are tired of being trapped in the cycle of addiction, get the help you need today.