Addiction Denial What it is and How to Help

Addiction Denial: What it is and How to Help

Addiction is a chronic and progressive disease that negatively impacts every area of a person’s life. Substance use disorders can lead to physical and mental health effects, strained relationships, and even financial distress. However, the compulsion to use drugs and alcohol can become so strong that the individual does not even realize they have a problem.

When someone has a hard time recognizing their problematic relationship with substances, they are suffering from something known as addiction denial. Instead of accepting that they are addicted to drugs and alcohol, they believe that they just like to “have a good time.”

Denial about addiction can lead to some serious issues, including an increased risk of experiencing significant consequences like the development of health conditions, legal issues, and broken relationships. Thankfully, there are ways to help someone overcome denial and make the first steps towards recovery.

In this article, you will learn:

  • What addiction denial is
  • The stages of denying your addiction
  • How to help a loved one overcome denial and accept treatment

What is Addiction Denial?

Denial in addiction refers to a refusal to acknowledge or accept the reality that you have a problem with substance abuse. It is a form of self-deception and a defense mechanism at the same time. If you keep lying to yourself about the severity of your substance use disorder, it is easier to continue abusing drugs and alcohol.

Denial plays a huge role in long-term substance abuse problems. The longer it takes you to accept that you struggle with addiction, the more time you will spend abusing substances. Unfortunately, this only makes recovery harder in the long run.

If you believe that your loved one is struggling with denial about their addiction, there are ways you can help them. The ultimate goal is to convince your loved one to accept addiction treatment for alcohol and drug abuse.

What are the Stages of Denying Addiction?

When it comes to addiction denial, your loved one might go through different stages. Each stage of denial indicates a different willingness to accept their reality. Thankfully, this means that over time, your loved one’s denial will lessen, making it more likely for them to accept any help you are offering.

The main stages of denial include:

  • Precontemplation – not yet acknowledging one’s problem with drugs and alcohol and likely refusing to accept that there is an issue at all
  • Contemplation – internally acknowledging that there is a problem but being unwilling to make any changes or ask for help
  • Preparation – getting ready to change, possibly having vulnerable conversations with loved ones or healthcare providers
  • Action – taking the steps necessary to change their behavior and overcome their addiction
  • Maintenance – maintaining the behavior change to stay healthy and achieve long-term recovery

The most difficult stages of denial are the pre-contemplation and contemplation stages. It is important to understand that addiction distorts reality, so these stages can be hard to overcome.

However, sometimes an emotional but supportive conversation with your loved one can move them from the contemplation stage into preparation, inspiring them to make the changes necessary for recovery.

How to Help Someone Overcome Addiction Denial

Overcoming denial about an addiction can be incredibly difficult. However, the support of a loved one can make it much easier. If you believe your loved one is struggling with addiction denial, here are some tips to make the process of supporting them run smoothly.

Have a Calm and Supportive Conversation

Addressing a person’s denial about addiction requires warmth, support, and understanding. You never want to have a conversation when you are feeling angry or irritated about their behavior, as doing so could cause a heated confrontation. Instead, you should start the conversation with words of encouragement and support.

Use “I” Statements

Next, you’ll always want to use “I” statements when talking about how something makes you feel. For example, saying something like “you make me feel angry when you drink,” will only make your loved one become defensive. Instead, you should say, “I feel upset when you drink because I worry for your health.”

Attend Support Groups With Them

If you offer to go to addiction support groups with them, they might feel less anxious about trying it out. Oftentimes, meetings like 12-step groups allow family members to attend open meetings as a way to support their loved ones.

You could also offer to attend family therapy with your loved one who is suffering from addiction. Showing them that you are willing to undergo the recovery process with them might make them more likely to take a leap of faith.

Encourage Them to Seek Professional Help

Lastly, once you have had an honest conversation with your loved one, it’s time to encourage them to accept professional help. The goal should always be to get your loved one into an addiction treatment center where they can receive detox, and therapy, and learn relapse prevention strategies for long-term recovery

If they do not accept help right away, do not lose hope. Sometimes it takes some time for them to make the switch from denial to acceptance and having a loved one who remains supportive of them no matter what can make a huge difference.

Get Connected to a Top-Rated Sober Living Program

If you or a loved one suffers from addiction, you should consider attending a sober living program. Sober living homes like New You Sober Living offer support during the transitional period from an addiction treatment center to independent living.

We are a top-rated transitional living residence for men and women to recover safely that offers co-ed and men’s Oakland Park, FL sober living homes. If you are looking for a comfortable sober living setting, you’re in the right place. We make living in a halfway house successful by gently incorporating a set of rules, a supervised structure, and the sober support needed to sustain your sobriety for the long term.

Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you maintain long-term sobriety.

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