Stages of Addiction Denial: How to Help an Addict

Trying to influence a loved one to seek out addiction treatment isn’t always a comfortable conversation. Some maybe aren’t ready to admit they have a problem, let alone spending up to 90 days in a treatment center to correct it.

Denial is one of the greatest roadblocks that can prevent an addict from joining an addiction treatment program and getting back on track with a healthy, sober lifestyle. Family and friends might not understand the signs of addiction or the psychology behind it, so although they recognize there is a problem, they might not know that it is addiction.

Different perspectives make it challenging to understand how a loved one can dispute their addiction, especially when it has become evident to everyone around them. The essential point to recognize is that the thoughts of an addict won’t be aligned with the views of a loved one because their judgment has been clouded by substance abuse. Mood disorders and trauma may also be causes that inhibit their ability to think more clearly and to have a better understanding.

Addiction and Denial

An addict could also carry perspectives and opinions about their substance-abuse that they feel are true. Some beliefs and opinions a loved one with an addiction may have could be:

  • They don’t mind: Some addicts will be at the point where they don’t care that they have administered pain and destruction to themselves and others. They’ll recognize the damage but let the addiction continue to help them bury those feelings.
  • They believe they’re in complete control: An addict may believe that they can stop using substances whenever they want, and it is not an issue of willpower. They’ll make claims that they can quit whenever they want, and they claim it is under control.
  • They don’t believe their addiction is harmful: A majority of addicts will struggle in understanding how their behavior has affected the people that surround them. Occasionally it takes an organized intervention of friends, family, and an intervention specialist to help them realize the damage their addiction has caused.
  • They feel they’re a victim: Addicts have the belief that they suffer more stress and anxiety than their peers; therefore, they become unable to cope without substances.

Is Your Loved-One Oblivious to The Problem?

When a loved one has a substance addiction, they become entirely oblivious and reluctant to accept help by enrolling in an addiction treatment program. Denial works in a variety of ways during an ongoing addiction, such as:

  • Manipulating loved ones by acting like the victim
  • Accusations that loved ones are judging them because they speak up about their substance use
  • Denying they have a substance addiction 
  • Placing blame on others for their issues that have been caused by addiction
  • Neglecting any adverse actions that loved ones have blamed them for

If you know somebody who is displaying any of these above behaviors, they are most likely in denial but their addiction. Unfortunately, to let this continue will only lead to severe consequences.

The Damage of Ongoing Denial

Continuous denial of addiction is something that could extend into the first few days or weeks of an addiction treatment program. Addiction is one of the most troublesome conditions to overcome, even with help, but allowing it to continue any longer can be significantly damaging.

  • Denial twists reality: When an addict is in denial, they’re trying to manipulate their loved ones into assuming the same. These actions can even lead loved ones to question their judgment of the situation or doubt that there’s a problem. This form of denial causes the addict to ignore the challenge and continue their destructive path.
  • Denial creates isolation: Eventually, loved ones become exhausted the addict’s substance abuse, so they start to pull away and seek out isolation. They’ll suddenly only spend time with others who also abuse substances as a way to avoid the ridicule.
  • Denial causes codependent behaviors: As loved ones continuously try to help the addict recognize their problem, they’ll begin to develop codependent behaviors that are both harmful for them and the addict. The only way to avoid denial and frustration is to disengage and let the addict encounter the results of their choices. This can be very challenging and uncomfortable, but it could ultimately encourage your loved one to obtain help.

Getting an Addict in Denial The Help Required 

The route to help a loved one is difficult to navigate when they refuse to acknowledge there is a problem. Although it might feel impossible to try, there are various techniques you can attempt to assist an addict in denial.

Stage an Intervention

An addict’s family members might worry that a staged intervention could offend their loved one and make them feel attacked. Although this could happen, most staged interventions are a success with the addict accepting help and enrolling in an addiction treatment program. 

When a family feels an intervention must be staged, they should enlist the help of a professional intervention specialist. These experienced professionals are trained to plan and stage interventions. At any point, friends and family should not attempt this without the help of an interventionalist, it could blow up, and the subject could go off the deep end.

Seek Involuntary Commitment to Treatment

Some states have laws in place which allow a parent, guardian, or loved one to commit an addict into a substance addiction treatment program involuntarily. An example is Florida’s Marchman Act, which gives the ability to enable families to petition the court for mandatory treatment of somebody with an addiction. Although each state’s law will vary, primarily a parent, guardian, or loved one must be able to prove that the subject has a substance addiction. 

There must also be a significant cause of concern that the individual could be harmful to themselves or others unless they are committed. Additionally, if the subject is entirely disabled due to their substance abuse and there isn’t anybody available to provide essential needs like meals and shelter, they can legally be involuntarily committed to an addiction treatment center.  

Let It Go

This is possibly the most challenging decision for a loved one to make. In some instances, there is nothing more that can be done for the addict, and they must admit the addiction on their own. It is challenging to watch a loved one struggle and not accept help or advice, particularly when those consequences could be life-threatening, but sometimes there isn’t another option.

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. Regardless, trying to convince an alcoholic, they have a drinking problem is like trying to argue with a wall. 

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. 

The demons that addiction and alcoholism are for those inflicted are incredibly intense. Our grandiose style of thinking tells us that we can outsmart addiction. Most of us, when deep on the run, are in denial of 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 wicked thoughts take over.

Being the Voice of Reason For An Addict

No- you can’t 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 be what that person needs to hear. Sometimes if they understand, there’s a problem innumerable times, and from enough loved ones, something maybe might click and get the right gears turning.

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 more accurate in this life addict, 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. 

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 accept there’s a problem at stake entirely. 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, contact us today! Our teams of specialists are always on standby, waiting to take your call happily. There is a light waiting to be shined for you.

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