Dealing with Denial

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When you confront someone with drug addiction, you confront their excuses. Below we will breakdown how to deal with denial when someone you care about is addicted to drugs or alcohol.

If you or someone you care about has a drug problem, you’ve probably already tried talking to them about getting help– only to crash head-on into their unshakeable wall of excuses. When confronting someone who is enveloped in drug addiction, these reactions are common:

• I don’t have a problem. The only real problem I have is you nagging me all the time.
• I can quit anytime I want to. I just don’t want to.
• It’s not that bad.
• I have it under control.
• I can handle it.
• I’m not ready to stop.
• I’ll quit using when the time is right.
• It’s not like I’m some homeless junkie. I still have a play to stay/a car/a job.

Sound familiar?

It’s difficult to understand how someone with a substance abuse problem could be oblivious to their situation when the evidence is so overwhelming. We can sum it up in one word – denial.

Denial Accompanies The Disease of Addiction

It is important to understand that denial is a powerful component of the disease of addiction. Denial is a self-protective measure taken by the brain to protect the drug addict from the harsh reality of their current situation. It’s a defense mechanism. While it is true that the addict doesn’t want to see the seriousness of their addiction, what’s even more true is that they can’t. Their mind won’t allow them to. There is a blind spot in their psyche preventing them from facing the truth that they are, in fact, a drug addict.

How to Help Someone Who Is in Denial About Their Drug Addiction

Dealing with someone in denial about their drug addiction is frustrating, to say the least. From your vantage point, you can clearly see that the person you care about is in trouble. But, when you try and talk to them about it, they get defensive – or even downright hostile. Helping someone get out of denial about their drug addiction requires certain skills.

Here are six ways you can help someone see the light:

1. When you attempt to communicate with someone who is in the throes of a drug addiction, remember that you are talking to a sick person. Although you might be angry about his or her recent actions, remember that they are not in their right mind. Always approach the addicted person with love and concern, not anger and resentment.

2. Use “I” and “we” statements. This keeps the situation about you and doesn’t isolate the addict. It also reduces the likelihood that the person you care about will react defensively. For example, instead of saying, “YOU are a drug addict and YOU need to get help. YOU are out of control,” say something like, “Hey, I love you. I am concerned about what’s going on here. I think we may need to get some help for our situation.”

3. Do some research and have resources about addiction available. When you approach the person, ask them if they would be willing to read some information and present them with it. The "Am I An Addict?" pamphlet from Narcotics Anonymous is a great way to get someone out of denial. It is a self-test that can be done in private. It asks a series of questions that will help the addicted person come to terms with the fact that they have a problem with substance abuse.

4. Be ready with facts. Remember, the addicted person is skilled at lying to themselves about their addiction. Ask them if they would be willing to let you tell them why you think they have an addiction problem. Remind them how much they have missed work, ask them to look at bank statements that can show how much money they have spent on their habit, or tell them how have been neglecting their kids to get high. Back your claims up with irrefutable evidence.

5. Do not force the issue and don’t pursue the matter of breaking the wall of denial relentlessly. If you constantly try to prove to an addict that they are in denial, the more their denial will take hold. They will convince themselves that you are a nag and that you are the one with the problem.

6. If you’ve tried every approach we’ve listed, or your situation is desperate, we recommend that you seek professional help.

At Alpine Centers, We Can Help Battle Denial And Assist You In Getting Help For Your Loved One.

Our expert team of addiction specialists at Alpine are skilled at shining the light of truth on the darkness of denial. If you’ve tried time and time again to help your loved one see the reality of their addiction, and you’ve been unable to do so, give us a call. We can help.

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