Common Obstacles To Treatment
So, why does the addict continue to deny they have a problem? Many times, fear is at the root of their denial, among other reasons. Here are some of the most common obstacles that prevent someone from admitting they have a SUD:
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What Does Denial In Addiction Look Like
Denial can be outright refusal to believe there is an issue. It can also be recognizing there may be a problem and their problems arent that bad. Comparisons to others who have lost more than they have is a common justification and manipulation to themselves and others. Many alcoholics feel they do not have a problem because they are still employed. An addict addicted to opiates may think they are justified because of legitimate physical pain and they arent junkies because the medication was prescribed by a doctor. A common denominator behavior in most alcoholics and addicts is the thought that every problem is somebody elses fault. Many are also in denial that they need professional help and believe they can fix any problem themselves. Below are a few examples of denial:
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Tips For Talking To An Addict In Denial
Confronting an addict in denial should never be done when theyre drunk or high. This is a highly sensitive topic, and if theyre under the influence of drugs and alcohol, they may not understand the conversation or become aggressive.
Some additional tips include:
- Be specific when you talk to them. This includes using specific incidents as examples.
- Use I phrases, so they understand that these are all legitimate incidents that youve taken note of.
- Remain calm. Getting upset will make them feel cornered and most likely lead to defensiveness, denial, and avoidance of the topic in the future.
- Dont be judgmental. Watching a loved one suffer is frustrating, but harshly reacting can just cause the individual to shut down and avoid the conversation.
- Talk about the negative impact their addiction has had on people and things they love, like their family, career, spouse, or sports.
- Keep in touch with your loved one regularly, even if they arent willing to open up right now or receive treatment.
- Remain supportive of your loved one even if they remain in denial.
How To Talk To Someone About Their Drug Abuse
Starting a conversation with someone about their drug addiction is never easy, but its important you come from a place of compassion and understanding. Remember, no one sets out to become an addict. Drug abuse is often a misguided attempt to cope with painful issues or mental health problems. Stress tends to fuel addictive behavior, so criticizing, demeaning, or shaming them will only push your loved one away and may even encourage them to seek further comfort in substance abuse.
Discovering someone you love has a drug problem can generate feelings of shock, fear, and anger, especially if its your child or teen whos using. These strong emotions can make communicating with a drug user even more challenging. So, its important to choose a time when youre both calm, sober, and free of distractions to talk. Offer your help and support without being judgmental.
Dont delay. You dont have to wait for your loved one to hit rock bottomto get arrested, lose their job, suffer a medical emergency, or publicly humiliate themselvesto speak out. The earlier an addiction is treated, the better.
Express your concerns honestly. Emphasize that you care for the person and are worried about their well-being. Offer specific examples of your loved ones drug-related behavior that have made you concernedand be honest about your own feelings.
Staging an intervention
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How Outpatient Treatment Can Ease Fears
If your loved one is in denial about their addiction, its helpful to understand why. You may discover that your loved one has fears about drug rehab. Learning about addiction and the available treatment options can help you have a more open conversation with your loved one.
For instance, many people are afraid to accept treatment because they dont want to sit in rehab for 60-90 days. This can be a big turnoff for those who have jobs, families, and households to care for. In this case, an outpatient treatment program may be a better option.
With outpatient drug rehab, clients can seek care on their own schedule. Usually, they start off attending treatment a few hours a day, most days of the week. These programs also make it easier to transition into everyday life, as the person will be doing this little by little every day.
If you can, its best to choose a holistic outpatient treatment program because it introduces a variety of techniques to help people avoid drugs and alcohol. For example, Awakenings Treatment Center offers art therapy, music therapy, neurofeedback, massage therapy, acupuncture, and others to help clients manage stress and prevent relapse.
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.
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What Are The Signs Of Addiction
There are certain signs and symptoms that indicate a SUD is present. If your loved one is exhibiting some of these symptoms, it is hard for them to deny the problem:
What Not To Say Or Do
There are also things to avoid in the course of this conversation. For example:
- Dont try to force your loved one to seek treatment. Remember that this may be the first time theyve truly thought about the scope of their substance use and that it might take time for detox or rehab to seem possible.
- Avoid using the words should/shouldnt, which can seem like youre telling your loved one what to do.
- Try not to ask questions beginning with why, as in Why do you do this?, etc. That leads your loved one to feel attacked, which will make them defensive or combative.
- Dont judge your loved one for behaving in sub-par ways. If they did not have a substance use disorder, they wouldnt be engaging in these behaviors. Furthermore, theyre probably feeling some shame or guilt about their behavior, and a negative tone could shut down the conversation.
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Alcohol Tobacco And Other Drugs
The misuse and abuse of alcohol, tobacco, illicit drugs, and prescription medications affect the health and well-being of millions of Americans. SAMHSAs 2020 National Survey on Drug Use and Health reports that approximately 19.3 million people aged 18 or older had a substance use disorder in the past year.
Seeing Someones Addiction Is Painful Frustrating And Draining But How Can We Help Someone Who Is In Denial Of Their Addiction Read This To Learn How
Its hard seeing someone you love suffer. Its painful and frustrating it drains us mentally, physically and emotionally. We wish we could say and do all the right things to help them. But how can we help someone who is in denial of their addiction?
Unfortunately, this is very common.
I was in denial for years about how severe and unhealthy my drinking habits really were. I used excuses to justify my drinking and its consequences while ignoring the advice of my family and friends.
Its challenging getting through to someone whos using heavily, especially when theyre denying their addiction.
Fortunately, there are ways you can still help.
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How To Raise The Subject
People often worry that initiating a discussion with the person with the problem will lead him or her to take drastic steps. They might make a scene in front of other family members, move out of the house, drop out of school, use more excessively, try to hide their problem, or retaliate against them or other family members. However, you might find the conversation to be a wonderfully productive experience. Perhaps the person simply hasnt noticed behavioral changes or doesnt realize that his or her substance use was or is causing a problem. And without change, the problems may become so severe that the same drastic outcomes could result.
Tips For Helping Someone With An Addiction
The challenge with addiction is that the addict is not the only one impacted by this disease. Family and friends can have difficulty with the addicts behavior, financial problems, legal problems and the daily struggle of supporting a loved one. Here are seven tips that family and friends can reference to support an addicted family member or friend.
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How Does Denial Play Out What Might It Look Like
An Addict in denial can be obvious, but it can also be deceiving. This is especially the case with more socially acceptable drugs like marijuana or alcohol. If your loved one is using these drugs with others and tells you they have everything under control, it may be difficult to prove otherwise. At least for a while. True addiction will eventually take its toll on the persons life and sabotage their relationships, physical health, emotional health, and financial stability.
Here are some things to watch for:
- Manipulating loved ones by pretending to be a victim or martyr.
- Accusing loved ones of judging them about their drug or alcohol use.
- Denying that they have a problem saying everything is under control or they just use drugs and alcohol for fun.
- Blaming others for their problems and their substance abuse.
- Not taking harmful or destructive behaviors seriously.
Look Into Professional Treatment And Drug Rehab Services For Them
Your loved one likely does not even know where to begin or what options are out there for them to get help.
In fact, it is likely they may not even want to hear about them. If they are not ready for a change, any option you present is likely to be shot down. If they are ready, it may seem simply too exhausting for them to have to research their options.
This is where you can be of service by seeing what is out there for treatment first, so you can make educated suggestions when the time is right. There are many methods of treatment, and it is important to keep this in mind before choosing a drug rehab facility to explore.
One of the more popular methods is the 12-step program. At Cirque Lodge, we believe every addiction and person is unique, and we tailor treatment accordingly. So while we are founded on the 12-steps, we also integrate effective forms of clinical therapies into a mind, body and spirit approach to help a person become healthy from the inside out. Understanding treatment approaches is the key to your loved one is success in that program.
Also, there is an alternative to helping someone who is in a downward spiral whom you believe must seek help very soon, whether they want to or not. This is what is called intervention. Interventions can require planning, because there are many layers to successfully staging it.
Helping An Addict In Denial
The power of these rationalizations is so strong that confronting an addict in denial is one of the most difficult things a loved one can do. Your loved one might not have any financial problems. He may have chalked up lost friendships to certain events or conversations but never the bad judgment that results from a chronic substance abuse problem. After all, you or your loved one may be holding down a job, married with children, and have all the outward appearances of a healthy lifestyle.
Unfortunately, addiction is cunning, as Alcoholics Anonymous co-founder Bill W so succinctly noted. This means identifying a substance abuse problem can be more difficult than you ever thought possible.
Nevertheless, confronting an alcoholic or drug addict in denial is one of the most important ways to help them or yourself. If you notice any of the following symptoms in addition to denial, its time to have a conversation about quitting and getting help:
Track Evidence Of A Problem
Part of addiction is denial. When confronted, the addict will usually claim that they do not have a problem, that everything is OK, that they like to party sometimes but that they can stop whenever they want to.
Make a list of all of the times you can recall that drugs affected your family members life. Write down the missed birthdays, DUIs lost jobs, fights, and hospital stays.
An addict may have excuses for all of their actions. However, by giving precise and convincing evidence of the ways drugs are impacting your family, you begin to build a case that they need help.
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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.
Reasons People Who Abuse Substances Deny Addiction
There are many reasons a person may be in denial about their substance use disorder. Some of these include:
- They believe that they are in control of their substance use.
- They are ashamed to admit that they have a problem.
- They are using alcohol or drugs to cope with other issues.
- They may have loved ones who are enabling their substance abuse.
- They are convinced that they are somehow different than other people who are addicted to drugs or alcohol.
Even if someone contemplates the idea that their substance use could be problematic, they may still find it hard to confront the severity of their addiction within themselves. One possible reason for this is that long-term drug use can impair a persons cognitive functioning, which can impact their ability to stop using substances and to accept that they may have a substance use disorder.6 Another reason could be that they are afraid to accept their substance use as being problematic given that they would then have to change the behavior.6 This can especially be challenging for someone who views substance use as a way to cope with underlying issues.
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Tips To Help Your Loved One Recover
If your loved one decides to accept help, there are ways you can support their recovery without taking it fully upon yourself.
You can tell them about the information youve gathered and say that youre willing to go through it with them or offer to go with them to the doctor or a therapist. If your loved one responds well, you can even suggest exploring treatment options as a team, so theyre not tackling it alone.
Moving into recovery can be a difficult process. Make sure you focus on specific motivating factors that will spur your loved one onward, especially since SUDs are chronic, relapsing illnesses. Dont set them up to fail, but remind them that a slip along the road to recovery isnt the end. Emphasize the fact that addiction is manageable, give them positive feedback, and support their progress.
Remember also that denial is the first step in the stages of grief. When grieving people are in denial, they cannot accept that a loss has taken place. Confronting the truth feels impossible. This is a defense mechanism that occurs to avoid pain. The same is true of someone dealing with addiction. Realizing that drug or alcohol use has become a clinical disorder is a harsh reality that may require grieving: for a lifestyle your loved one wants to keep up, for the problems they have caused in their life and in others, etc. Allow them that time to move past denial while keeping their focus on the good things to come. Soon youll both be in a healthier place.