How To Recognize An Addict In Denial
It is very common for people struggling with addiction to be defensive about the problem when a friend or family member broaches the subject with them. Partly, because of the vulnerability that comes with letting other people into your business. But mainly because they feel their friends or family will not see them the same way again. But little do they know that denial will do nothing but complicate the problem for them. As their friend or loved one, it is your responsibility to recognize the signs and symptoms of addiction and point it out to them. Here are the common signs of addiction to look out for in persons in denial.
- Solitary consumption of alcohol or drugs
- Consumption of alcohol or drugs at odd hours, such as in the morning.
- Concealment of alcohol or drugs in odd locales at home, at work, and everywhere else.
- Excessive consumption of drugs or alcohol to get the same high effect
- Legal violations resulting from substance abuse
- Avoiding social interactions or hobbies to spend time drinking or using.
- frequent outbursts over addiction-related discussions
Dont Call Them An Alcoholic Or Addict
Although these are terms that are generally used to describe people with alcoholism, they arent appropriate to use when youre trying to confront someone about their drinking. Calling the person an alcoholic or an addict can seem like a harsh accusation or a label. Saying this can cause them to be defensive, so instead of using labels, focus on expressing your feelings.
Dealing With Denial In A Loved One
Denial is a very common behavior among addicts and a very serious one, as it can prevent a person from receiving the addiction treatment they need. In knowing how to deal with denial, you can help a loved one overcome a primary barrier to lifelong recovery and get them into an outpatient treatment program.
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Dont Confront Them When Theyre Drunk Or Drinking
When someone you care about comes home drunk, its tempting to let loose and say the first thing that comes to your mind. But this isnt effective. Theyll either tune out whatever youre saying, not understand it because theyve had too much to drink, or theyll forget about it the next day.
You also risk starting an argument when you confront someone about their drinking when theyre drunk, so its better to wait for the next time theyre sober. You should also try to sit them down at a table to maintain a peaceful conversation.
Helping Someone In Denial Of Addiction To Recover
When you look at a loved one exhibiting outward signs of denial, this doesnt mean they havent already thought about getting help for their addiction.
What can you do, then, to make this happen?
Well, you should take full advantage of the power of words. Impress upon your loved one how much you love them and how concerned you are. Emphasize the extent to which youll support them during the ongoing process of recovery.
Give your loved one relevant contact details for recovery meetings, therapists, and any other appropriate medical professionals. Do this with no strings or pressure attached.
You could also put them in touch with an Orange County drug rehab like Renaissance where they can follow a structured inpatient or outpatient program following medical detox.
If you need any further information on how to help addicts in denial, call our friendly team today at and your loved one will be in safe hands.
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Understanding Your Loved Ones Substance Abuse
People start using drugs for a lot of different reasons. Many turn to substances to cope with the emotional pain of a mental health problem, such as depression, anxiety, or PTSD. Known as self-medicating, some people may be aware they have a mental health issue but are unable to find healthier ways of coping, while others remain undiagnosed and use drugs to manage specific symptoms.
Other people turn to drugs to change how they feel, to fit in, or to alleviate boredom or dissatisfaction with their lives. Then there are those whose substance abuse develops from a doctors well-intentioned efforts to treat a medical condition. Of all the people prescribed opioids to relieve pain, for example, estimates suggest that more than a quarter will end up misusing the drug.
Whatever your loved ones reason for starting, though, not everyone who uses drugs develops a problem. While the exact causes of addiction arent clear, genetics likely plays a role, along with environmental factors. While one person is able to use substances without detrimental effects, another finds even casual use quickly escalates into compulsion and addictiona very dark hole from which they can feel powerless to emerge.
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How Does A Sud Cause Denial
The changes in your loved ones brain are, at some level, responsible for their denial. To be able to recognize a problem, they would need to have a certain level of self-awareness, which relates both to the ability to think in general and to understand their SUD specifically. Self-awareness rests in the prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain that organizes life experiences into meaning. People with SUDs tend to have structural changes in this area, and their behavior changes as a result: they have problems connecting their substance use to potential or existing consequences to their health, family life, social interactions and daily routine. Essentially, drug and alcohol consumption rewire their brain to deny that anything is wrong with them or what theyre doing.
On another level, denial allows your loved one to continue using their substance of choice. Admitting they had a problem would require action, like starting treatment or getting sober. Since they are so committed to avoiding symptoms of withdrawal, continuing to believe that they have control over the situation and that there are no problems with their life allows them to rationalize their use.
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The Deeply Personal Impact Of Drug Use Stigma
The stigma related to addiction causes significantly negative impacts to a persons:
- Relationships with loved ones, and
- Drive to seek treatment and healing
The shame, guilt and embarrassment paralyze the individual and their family from taking action that can help. No one wants to invite public scrutiny and judgment into their private matters. Societys view of substance abuse as a matter of crime and punishment fuels these fears, which often leads to social isolation and loneliness, complicating matters further.
Denial: The Primary Roadblock To Addiction Recovery
Getting a loved one to go to drug and alcohol rehab isnt always easy. Some people may not be ready to admit that they have a problem, let alone spend 30 to 90 days in a rehab center.
Denial is one of the main roadblocks that can keep a person from enrolling in addiction treatment and moving forward with their life.1 So what does this look like daily? How can we help our loved ones overcome their denial and accept the help they need to get better?
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Do Not Enable An Addict Or Alcoholic
Sometimes family members and friends of someone with a substance abuse disorder make the mistake of enabling the addict or alcoholic through their own behaviors. In this sense, enabling means that family or friends actions allow the addict or alcoholic to continue their self-destructive behavior. This could mean paying their legal fines, bailing them out of jail, or even continuing to forgive them time and time again. In order to stop enabling someone, it may feel like youre too harsh or mean. But ultimately, when you stop enabling someone it is a sign of how much you care for them.
This can often be a sign of codependency. If you think that you might be in a codependent relationship, its important to seek help not just for your loved one, but yourself.
Dont: Enable Your Loved One
There can be a fine line between helping someone with an addiction and enabling them. Sometimes when we think were protecting a loved one from the consequences of their addiction, we are actually enabling them to continue with potentially destructive behavior.
For example, if youre trying to figure out how to help an alcoholic, keeping them from drinking and driving is helpful, since that could put them and others in danger. However, consistently offering to drive them home whenever they get too intoxicated is enabling their actions, because its setting up a formula in which you are constantly available to rescue them.
Studies show that people with addictions are more likely to proactively seek treatment when they are forced to face the consequences of their actions. So, if you want to know how to help someone with an addiction, allow them to make mistakes without the promise of your rescue.
Its important to set up boundaries and rules, both for your well-being and the well-being of your loved one and its important to enforce those rules and boundaries. This is the only part of Recovery in which tough love is beneficial, since its done for both you and your loved ones protection.
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Listen More Than You Talk
An important part of communicating is listening to what the other person has to say. When someone with an addiction confides in you, try to listen without interrupting or criticizing. Even if you don’t agree with what they are saying, it’s important to withhold your judgment.
You also don’t have to make their addiction the main focus of every conversation you have with them.
You don’t want to make them feel like you’re checking up on them or assuming the worst about their condition.
Continue to ask them about their weekend plans or invite them to see a movie with you. Speak to them the same way you would if they didn’t have an addiction. Remember that they are still a person with likes, dislikes, opinions, and desires.
What are you doing? You’re not using again, are you? Why aren’t you calling me back?
Hey, do you have any plans this weekend? I would love to grab dinner if you’re free.
How To Confront An Addict In Denial
The truth is that it is possible your loved one has been thinking about seeking help and deep down they might be craving it. In addition, maybe they have just been waiting to see if anyone cares about them. So, you should really take the first step and figure out how to talk to someone on drugs. This will help you find the strength to reach out to your loved one.
You can also offer your loved one resources, including contact information and schedules for local support groups. You could also suggest that your loved one seek professional substance abuse counseling or addiction rehab. There are also inpatient and outpatient programs available for people who have addictions. You could recommend one to your loved one as a solution to their addiction issues. If they are nervous about getting treatment, you could volunteer to go with them so they dont have to go alone.
Addiction recovery is an ongoing process, denial is part of the process. Overcoming denial is a step towards sobriety. Watching someone suffering from an addiction can be frustrating, stressful, and difficult. Knowing how to talk to drug addicts can help a person express themselves to a loved one who has an addiction. Although you should remember if you have a loved one who has a drug or alcohol addiction, it is a good idea to express your concerns to them when they are sober. Dont place blame on your loved one. Stay positive and speak with them regarding their addiction.
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Have Your Next Steps Lined Up
The best case scenario is that, when confronted, your family member agrees to get treatment. If this happens, you want to make sure there is a bed available at a detox facility and that you have a rehab program lined up and ready for him or her.
Make the necessary phone calls ahead of time so you can grab the moment when it arises. Talk to your familys insurance companies, and facilities about the kinds of treatments are available and covered by your plan.
There are many options available, but it is best to go through the red tape first to make sure you have everything lined up when it is most needed.
When Is The Ideal Time To Seek Help
Getting help for someone who doesnt believe that there is a problem can be very challenging. Yet, if you dont take quick actions to help the person overcome addiction, the problem will compound and the consequences could worsen significantly. All things considered, the best time to seek help for someone in denial, is the moment you discover that there is a questionable relationship between the person and the abused substance. Of course, youll have to deal with defensive and evasive reactions from the addict in denial, but you shouldnt standby until the problem spirals out of control. Get help today.
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How To Help The Addict Who Is In Denial
Almost every addict will go through a period where they have no doubt that their drinking or drug addiction is under control when its not. Just like the smoker who insists that they can quit at any time, those who are addicted to illegal drugs or alcohol often assume that they can stop whenever they choose to. They feel like they have their drug use under control and insist that when they choose to stop theyll be able to without a problem. To them, its simply that they choose not to quit, no big deal.
As a friend or family member, we may have seen many times that their use is out of control and causing problems at home, work, or both. Watching someone destroy their life and not being able to do anything about it is beyond frustrating, and can leave you feeling helpless and hopeless. How do you help a loved one see that they need help without pushing them away?
Dont enable them.
Write things down.
If the addict is convinced that their drinking or drug use isnt an issue, start keeping track of all of the problems caused by their habits. If they often miss work when theyre not sober, write down the dates of each day theyve missed work. If they insist that they dont drink or use as often as they really do, log each day that they do. Be as specific as you can about certain events. Being able to see a pattern in their destructive behavior may be just what they need to realize that they do have a problem.
How Do I Overcome Addiction Denial
There is no right way to deal with addiction denial. For some, it could take weeks, months or even years to address properly. However, that doesnt mean you must wait around helplessly. Try keeping a journal of all the times you make excuses for your behavior while intoxicated, or of comments from friends and family. If you arent ready to accept these as warning signs of addiction denial today, you might be ready in the future. A journal gives you something objective to look back on free from the tricks your mind could be playing on you.
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What To Say To Someone In Denial
Its never easy to talk about something as personal and sensitive as drinking or drug use. Its important not to try and approach your loved one while they are drunk or high to have this conversation.
They might not be able to devote their attention to you, and they may become angry if they are under the influence. When the right time comes, try not to worry about saying the exact right thing.
The most important aspect of the conversation will be expressing concern for your loved one in a caring and honest way.
Anytime you can talk to your friend or family member when they have a clear head is ideal. It might be more productive if you can talk to them when the consequence of their substance use is fresh on their mind and they feel remorseful.
You may want to consider taking someone with you who shares the same concern you have for this person, or, leveraging someone who understands sobriety, like a member of Alcoholics Anonymous, or similar recovery group.
Direct Strategies For Dealing With Denial
Denial is a powerful coping mechanism used by people who are addicted to drugs or alcohol. They use denial to avoid understanding and addressing the feelings and thoughts that motivate using. The addict believes, subconsciously, that drinking and doing drugs does less damage than working to understand the pain and motivations that lie underneath. Those who question whether or not things are really fine are met with anger.
Although it can feel impossible to convince a loved one that substance abuse is a problem, there are many strategies you can use to help him recognize his addiction. Its also important to continuously stress the long term consequences of denial, which may include:
During your final attempts to reach your loved one, you must be prepared to hear some unpleasant truths about your own life. Your loved one may attempt to justify his behavior with your past actions. Be prepared to set limits strive for a rational discussion of the problem and avoid a shouting match at all costs.
Refute each excuse with a calm and rational response, and dont be afraid to acknowledge when your loved one is correct. You can try leaving your loved one with a book or website that talks about the signs and symptoms of substance abuse. Independent information given with no emotional attachment can sometimes convince a loved one to get help.
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