You Can’t Help Someone Who is in Denial of Their Addiction

being in denial about addiction

Do you remember being a youth and having that childlike awe at the idea of the tooth fairy or Santa Claus even? Living and giving meaning to the phrase “ignorance is bliss” almost. It was a wonderful feeling, but then the authenticities of the world struck their chords like they do for everybody and reality made sure it was heard. Time progressed, aging occurred, and adulthood took over. The quicksands of time began raining out the hourglass as we all struggled in one way or another to not get sucked under and to survive. As we began sinking, some of us turned to various chemicals and relied on them heavily to keep us from being swallowed whole. Some people would go on to find other ways to cope, but others would get lost. They would go on to trick themselves into believing they were self-sufficient in the matter, but really they were in denial of their addiction growing deeper.

In the process one calls life, most of us have developed a “seeing is believing” mentality. Kind of seeing things firsthand and having them prevalent to your life is a whole other ball game than hearing of something through the grapevine. This is due to the hardships that life delivers at our doorstep and the amount of times we get let down throughout life. Some would say it’s easier to maintain a cynical mindset and be surprised rather than to stay optimistic and have your hopes crushed repeatedly, as life so often does. This idea, multiplied with alcoholic thinking, starts us off with how seemingly counterproductive helping others in denial with their addiction is.

Denial- Not Just a River in Egypt

Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines denial as a refusal to admit the truth or reality. Also, it’s an assertion that a specific allegation is false. That being said, addicts and alcoholics are usually in denial of their addiction because it’s rather hard to prove something to somebody who has their mind made up about there being no harm- no foul going on. Addicts and alcoholics are very stubborn, closed minded people. It’s just in their nature- usually from the habits and ways they’ve formed to get by over the years. Regardless, trying to convince an alcoholic they have a drinking problem is like trying to argue with a wall. There will be no budging of any sort until they can see clearly for themselves that there is a problem. Everybody has different perspectives in life and we addicts and alcoholics will typically forget this. We see the world through our own little private lenses and put blinders on as we emerge into complete obliviousness to the world spinning around us.

Most addicts and alcoholics will remain in denial of their addictions until they hit their rock bottom more or less. Sure, it doesn’t have to be “rock bottom” because everybody’s rock bottom is different. Once it gets bad enough, that person will know that something needs to be done. However, why change a good thing if there aren’t any problems? That’s my motto. It is also apparently the motto of most chemically dependent people in denial of their addiction. Go figure huh?

man covering his ears in denial

The demons that addiction and alcoholism are for those inflicted are a doozy. Our grandiose style of thinking tells us that we can outsmart addiction. Most of us, when deep on a run, are in denial of their addiction because we justify all our actions to feed the demons. Alcoholic thinking craves substances and debauchery and we as human beings must deliver to the only thing that makes our life worth living. We even realize this sick and twisted mindset while living in the midst of it all, but the voice of reason is usually quickly bound and gagged as sinister thoughts take over.

Fear is the main culprit  when we boil down the residue and examine why so many friends of Bill are in denial of their addiction. Another unfortunate nature to this disease is that we get comfortable in this revolving door of misery that addiction is. We literally become comfortable with how uncomfortable we are in this world and hiss at the idea of getting help or “change” occurring. We fear the idea of detoxing off the plethora of chemicals built up in our system and the extra discomfort it will provide. We fear doing something proactive in our lives and accepting the fact that we deserve better than the miserable life our self-esteem and insecurities have convinced us we deserve. We fear the unknown and live in a world of anxiety as we remain complacent in the battle against dope sickness or the quest for crack rocks.

There is this old cliché of “you can lead a horse to water but you can’t force it to drink.” This statement couldn’t be truer in this life we addicts and alcoholics trudge through. At the same time, to recognize that the horse might not have been aware of the water without a nudge in the right direction is something we must all take into account. No- you can’t really help somebody get clean who is in denial of their addiction, but you can still be that voice of reason when theirs has been diminished. Pointing out who somebody is, when they are blind to what’s looking back in the mirror, might just be what that person needs to hear. Sometimes if they hear there’s a problem innumerable times and from enough loved ones, something maybe just maybe might click and get the right gears turning.

Swimming Out the River and Recognizing the Issue at Hand

It’s one thing for a person to be in denial of their addiction and it’s another to fully accept there’s a problem at stake. Most of us who’ve made it to green grasses were in full denial at one point or another. It took having the right light shined at the right time and catching little glimmers of the truth that had been so hidden before. If you or a loved one has been struggling with getting a firm grasp on your denial and could use detoxification or a little bit of help, please call 1-866-802-6848 or visit Our teams of specialists are always on standby waiting to happily take your call.  There is a light waiting to be shined for you.

Content Reviewed by Jacklyn Steward

Jacklyn StewardJacklyn is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC) and an EMDR trained trauma therapy specialist with over 6 years of experience in the field of addiction. She has a Masters Degree in Mental Health and Substance Abuse Counseling from Nova Southeastern University.