Working With Denial



It is very difficult to watch a family member or a loved one’s drinking spiral out of control and into an addiction. This is when denial sets in. Denial is used by all of us at some point in our lives to justify our actions to ourselves or others whether it is consciously or subconsciously.


Common examples of denial are someone dieting and saying, “one more cake won’t matter”, when knowing full well it does. This examples is only a simple example, but for an alcoholic  or drug addict denial can be fatal. Alcoholics or individuals with drink problems will use denial to rationalise their way of thinking and behaviour.


Addicts in denial often use defense mechanisms and are unwilling to seek treatment. These mechanisams are really strong feelings that often require a more focused, structured approach. This is when the guidance of a professional interventionst, psychologist, licensed clinical social worker, or addiction specialist is needed.



The Common Symptoms of Denial


The common symptoms are blaming their parents for their problems, which constitutes blaming others for their behaviour. They may end up lying to friends and family and hiding alcohol around the house. They may act in anger or anything where they do not have to admit they have an addiction. “You’re nagging is the reason I started drinking in the first place”. They will say anything to get you to stop going on, and except their drinking is normal. It helps them believe they are ok. This normally makes you feel, “well maybe everyone drinks like this, and I am just making a load of fuss over nothing”. This in turn can start loved ones off on the road to drinking. The sad part of all this is, these thought processes become a way of life, and denial becomes a part of you. This protects you from the truth as you don’t really understand addiction. The sad part is, the addiction will only get worse. It will never improve until someone can break through the denial.



The following four points help you to keep in mind key facts when attempting to intervene or help someone battle substance abuse and addiction.


1.  Develop An Understanding Of What Denial Is


In order to understand what goes on in the mind of someone battling alcoholism or substance abuse and in denial, it is important to understand exactly what denial is in a situation such as this.


The psychological definition of denial is “a condition in which someone will not admit that something sad, painful, etc., is true or real.” Often it is difficult for addicts and alcoholics to reach out for help because they don’t think any problem exists—denial is that powerful. Denial can also be a coping mechanism of sorts. Someone with a substance abuse disorder may have an inkling that something is wrong, but they may remain adamant in their denial of a problem in order to keep drinking or using.


2.  Do Not Enable An Addict Or Alcoholic


Sometimes family members and friends of someone with a substance abuse disorder or who is suffering alcoholism is make the mistake of enabling the addict or alcoholic through their own behaviors. In this sense, enabling means that family or friend’s 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 you’re 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 codependancy. If you think that you might be in a codependent relationship, it’s important to seek help not just for your loved one, but yourself.


3.  Pay Attention To How You Approach Someone With A Substance Abuse Disorder


If you broach the topic too often or too aggressively, threatening legal action or rehab, it is likely the addict or alcoholic in your life will begin to pull away and seek comfort in using. Before confronting the addict or alcoholic, think through what you want to say. This may mean planning an intervention. Come up with specific instances that demonstrate how their addiction has become detrimental to their life and the lives of those around them. Try to convey how their addiction has affected you specifically. Do not cast blame or negativity, but rather focus on why you may like to see your loved one lead a better, substance-free life. Also, express that while there is no easy cure for addiction, you are committed to helping in any way possible.


4.  Make It Clear That You Will Help When They Are Ready To Seek Treatment


Even if this is not the case immediately after confronting a loved one about their addiction, it’s important to express that your support is not going anywhere. They should know they have someone to turn to when they are ready to confront their problem and take action by seeking treatment and recovery. When someone is ready to undergo treatment, it is important that they have support and feel as if people care whether or not they recover. Knowing someone cares about their well-being may be a positive factor in their recovery.



If you would like to find out more about the addiction treatment serivces at Ayurva, or to simply talk about your, or a loved ones, drug or alcohol problem telephone us on 08454670612 or e-mail us



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