Living in denial is typical for some people suffering from drug addiction. Admitting addiction is difficult for most people with a drug problem. Addiction denial can cause tension between an addict and a loved one who confronts them regarding their drug problem. There are ways you can talk to a loved one regarding their addiction denial.
When approaching a drug addict, you must be clear about your concerns but use sensitivity, so they can see there is a problem and possibly seek help. Refrain from accusing or punishing them, as this could cause them to act out uncontrollably.
To understand why an addict denies their addiction, you must first understand denial. Denial is a coping method for any type of addiction, preventing an addict from admitting they have a drug problem. When confronted, an addict will often deny any drug usage. They may even say “I don’t have a drug problem,” “drugs don’t control me,” or “I can quit when I want.”
It is hard not to get upset with someone who is living in denial when you can see the problem and they cannot. The only thing you can do as a concerned loved one is point out that even though there is a drug problem present, you still love them and care about them.
Understanding an Addict in Denial
More times than not, a loved one will enable the abuser when trying to show their support and love for them. By enabling, you may provide financial support or make excuses for their lifestyle to protect them from others. When in denial, the drug abuser will often try to turn the situation around to lay a guilt trip on loved ones and friends who are trying to help them. It is important to remember not to lash out when the addict becomes resistant. Instead, try to understand what they are going through without enabling them. Maintaining empathy is crucial. In time, the addict may come to terms with their denial and seek help. Many individuals seek treatment in drug rehab programs. Others, however, may need a bit more coaxing in the form of a series of informal interventions before acknowledging they have a problem. (With the deadly drugs of today, waiting until the user hits so-called “rock bottom” is a risky strategy, as rock bottom could be the grave.) Nonetheless, it is important to continue giving love and support until they are ready to seek treatment.
How to Approach an Addict Who is in Denial
Talking to an addict can be hard. You do not always know how they will react. Maintaining a calm and understanding tone free of finger-pointing accusations works best. Here are some tips on how to approach an addict who is in denial:
- Hold your ground. Voice your concerns even when an addict does not want to hear what you have to say. They may continue to deny and refuse help if they know you are planning to approach them. This topic can be hard, and it may even seem like it is easier to walk away when it gets rough. Hang in there and continue to voice your concerns.
- Stick to the facts. Never assume you know what is going on or what has caused their addiction. Instead, have a list of first-hand experiences that prove there is a substance abuse problem. This could be pointing out self-destructive behavior, personality changes, or harmful lifestyle habits. Facts may make it harder for the drug user to deny that they are struggling with addiction and can even help them understand what others are seeing.
- Stay calm. Staying calm during these tense conversations can prevent any added tension and risk of escalation. When you speak in a relaxed and understanding voice, it helps the addict let down the defenses of their denial. They may be more understanding and open to talking.
- Offer help. After voicing your concerns, it is also important to offer advice and encouragement. Letting the addicted person know you are there to support them and help them seek treatment may be the step they need. Often addicts are not aware of their problem, and once it is made aware, they may feel like they have to fight their addiction problem on their own. However, if they know they have a support group recovery can be more successful.
When family and friends feel like they have done everything in their power to help an addict, but the addict is still refusing help, it may be time to bring in a professional to stage a formal intervention.
What Not to Say or Do When Talking to an Addict
When speaking to an addict in denial it may be hard to keep your cool. Here are things you should not say or do when bringing up their addiction:
- Do not force someone into treatment. When addiction is brought into the open, keep in mind this may have been the first time they have come to terms with their drug abuse. Just as an addiction problem is a lot for you to understand, it may be the same way for them.
- Avoid using the words “should/shouldn’t.” These terms can often make someone feel like you are telling them what they should or shouldn’t do.
- Avoid using ‘why’ and other open-ended questions or prompts. Examples could be “why do you do this?” “why are you hurting your family like this?”. This could make them feel as if they are being attacked, and then they may shut down or their defense mechanism may kick in.
- Avoid judging your loved one for the way they live their life. If substance use disorder was not present, they would not be living or behaving in this way. Additionally, they may even be feeling embarrassed or guilty for their behavior and the way they have been living.
Helping an Addict Recover
Drug addiction can be a lengthy fight and hard to overcome, but it is possible. Receiving help and treatment is essential to overcoming addiction and denial. With the appropriate treatment and denial management in place, an addict can get to the root of their addiction and be on the road to recovery. However, recovery is not over once detox and a treatment program is completed. Recovery comes from treatment and support. This means choosing a better lifestyle, including the people with whom you spend your time. Choosing the best drug and rehab facility can be one of the best decisions one can make when reaching for clean and sober living. Here at Serenity Acres, we offer individualized treatment problems which allow care to be given for each person’s unique needs. Contact us today if you or a loved one is ready to break from the chains of addiction.