How To Drag A Family Out Of Denial
Denial is a powerful force, not for change, but for maintaining the status quo. We tend to think of the addict as being the one in denial, but often the people around her are also heavily in denial about the problem. Denial is something that can be useful at times. It may keep us sane in the face of something terribly traumatic. Most of the time, however, denial keeps us from making positive changes.
If you have an addict in the family and everyone else denies that there is a problem, make an effort to drag them out of their inertia to help your loved one.
Denial And Addiction
Denial is a common feature of addiction. It allows the addict to make excuses and keep using. Addicts often keep themselves in denial and can’t get help until they fully admit to having a problem.
On the other side of the coin are the loved ones in denial. It’s understandable to see this happen. Parents, for instance, may find it impossible to admit their child is a chronic drug user or an alcoholic. Other members of the family may be in denial because conflict within the family changes the dynamic and upsets the balance.
These family members may think they are keeping everything on an even keel, but the truth is they are only enabling the addict. They are making the situation worse and allowing the addict to continue on a downward spiral. If you are the one family member not in denial, it may be very difficult to speak up. You are the one rocking the boat and everyone else reacts as if you’ve lost your mind.
How To Break Through Family Denial
If you really care about your loved one and your family, you can try to break down the wall of denial. Remember that you may not be successful. You can only do so much, and you can’t force people to change. The best you can do is to try to change their minds, convince them to see the truth and offer your love and support to the addict.
- Show that you are serious – It isn’t easy to go against what everyone else is seeing. If you have been quietly putting a bug in the ear of anyone who will listen, it’s time to step up and take a bolder stand. Hold a family meeting without the addict. Confront your family head on and show them that you mean business. This straightforward approach may jolt some of your family members out of complacency.
- State the facts – Before you hold the meeting, prepare a list of facts. Present your family with concrete examples of how your loved one displays the signs of addiction. Lead with facts rather than emotions and they may take you more seriously.
- Remain calm and be patient – Give your family time to let the facts sink in. If no one gives up his or her denial immediately, don’t get frustrated. Let it go for a few days and then come back to family members individually. You may find that some are prepared to listen to you now.
- Offer help – When all else fails and your family remains in denial, give your love and support to the addict. You can’t always change minds, but you can offer your help. Tell your addicted loved one that you are there for her when she is ready and have resources for treatment prepared.
Denial may be powerful, but so is the care and love you have for your family. Do what you can to break through the denial, but recognize when you can do no more.
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