What Are The Ways To Recognize Addiction Denial In A Loved One?
Denial is a classic hallmark of addiction. Addicts cause themselves harm, they damage relationships with people they love, they get into legal trouble and financial trouble as well, and yet many will claim not to have a problem with drugs or alcohol. This is called denial, and while it is not a part of every addict’s arsenal, it is a very common defense mechanism. Until the veil of this denial can be lifted, an addict is unlikely to get help. By recognizing the signs of denial you can learn to help your loved one come to the realization that he needs help.
Is It Denial Or An Outright Lie?
Lying is a conscious act meant to deceive. Your loved one may lie to you all the time. Lying is another defense mechanism used by addicts. To hide just how bad the problem is, he may lie to you about any number of things. To be in denial, however, is different. If your loved one is in denial, he truly believes that he doesn’t have a problem. It is frustrating to deal with an addict in denial, but realize that he is not trying to hurt you. He simply can’t see the extent of his problem.
What Is Denial?
There are several different forms that denial can take. If you are dealing with someone who is in complete denial about his problem, he is totally oblivious to the harm that his drinking or drug use is causing. You may also be dealing with a case of partial denial. Addicts who only partially believe they have a problem may recognize that their drug use or drinking is a bad habit, but may deny the issues it is causing. Perhaps the most harmful type of denial occurs when the addict fully admits to having a problem, but denies needing any alcohol abuse help.
How Can You Recognize Denial?
Addicts are very good at behaving as if everything is fine. They strive to hide the damage that their addictions cause and present a normal face to the world. If you think your loved one is in deeper than he is letting on, look for signs that he is in denial of the severity of his problem. For instance, addicts in denial do a lot of rationalizing. He makes excuses for why he drinks or uses drugs. Maybe he says that he needs to drink after work to decompress.
Those in denial also tend to minimize their problems. Without even realizing that he is being untruthful, your loved one may tell you he had just two drinks at the bar, when he really had five. Avoidance is another denial strategy. Addicts sometimes withdraw from and avoid loved ones so they don’t have to have conversations about their behaviors. Also look out for blaming and bargaining. If your loved one blames external forces, even you, for his problem, he is in denial. He may bargain with you to let him have a few drinks if he promises not to drink the next day.
Addicts are good at denial. They deny their problem to others and to themselves. They get so good at it that denial becomes another unhealthy habit and a roadblock to getting help. If you think your loved one needs help, avoid falling into the trap of believing his denials. Trust your instincts and do your best to help him see what you see. If you fail to convince him, bring in other people who care about him and consider hosting an intervention. Addiction is a serious disease, you need to break through denial in order to get treatment and find success in recovery.
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