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How to Help an Addict Who Is In Denial

If you struggle with how to help an addict who is in denial, you may feel alone and frustrated. Yet, believe it or not, more than 20 million people in the US were diagnosed with substance use disorders in 2022. Another fact concerning stigmatized substance use disorders that remains misunderstood is that addiction is a mental illness. Therefore, you are not alone in frustration, anxiety, and exhaustion while experiencing the devastation connected to addiction. 

When investigating how to help an addict who is in denial, understanding how denial works when connected to addiction is vital. Denial is instrumental in allowing the addict to hang on to their addiction. Until there is an acknowledged awareness of the presence of the addiction, recovery is not possible. The changes needed to end the addiction can only follow if the addict admits to the problem. 

What is Denial of Addiction?

When people speak of being lost in their addiction, it speaks toward the rejection of reality or denial that the addiction exists. Therefore, when learning how to help an addict who is in denial, you must grasp the psychological concept involved with an inability to accept the truth because of their distorted reality. Denial of addiction truly is a powerful subconscious defense mechanism. Finally, it’s vital to refrain from making accusations of purposeful lying about being addicted; it will just push the addict away. 

Learning how to help an addict who is in denial includes finding the currency involved with the denial. By having conversations with the addict concerning their addiction, you can identify how the denial is being used. Denial can allow time to make changes and adjustments or provide time to think about the situation. Finally, knowing that this denial period will prolong the addiction and push back the initiation of treatment will buffer frustrations and disappointments. 

Through understanding denial, you can work more on making sure it is denial you are struggling with by identifying some signs and symptoms of addiction and denial. However, you can’t understand how to help an addict who is in denial until you have clear and correct information about the addiction. There are clear-cut signs and symptoms of addiction to be aware of. Educating yourself with as much ammunition to fight addiction increases your chances of success. 

The Signs of Addiction

Jumping to conclusions, making assumptions, and allowing stigma surrounding mental illness and substance abuse will cloud your learning ability. Conversely, putting away all expectations will aid in your effort to learn how to help an addict who is in denial. Addiction is an individualized mental illness but holds similar markers of identification. The following signs and symptoms of addiction will guide you in learning about addiction. 

  • Refusal or inability to stop drinking or using drugs no matter what consequences are being presented from the alcohol or drug abuse
  • Casual or recreational drinking or drug use turns into dependence and addiction, acknowledging that social activities always involve drinking or using
  • Noticing the emergence of lies and deceit surrounding drinking or drug use
  • Lifestyle, financial, and relationship difficulties escalate
  • Physical and psychological signs and symptoms when using stops or decreases

Once these factors indicate an addiction, the addict may resist these concepts and become lost in denial. You must realize it’s all in the subconscious. In early addiction, those who deny the existence of addiction will not be able to grasp the idea of treatment. Learning how to help an addict who is in denial is a process that takes patience, understanding, and empathy. 

Recognizing Denial and Its Stages

An interesting fact about the defense mechanism of denial is that it keeps the addicted person from feeling fear and anxiety. But unfortunately, those with substance use disorder may be experiencing shame and feeling worthless. Addressing these feelings is exceptionally frightening. Therefore, it is essential that those learning how to help an addict who is in denial understand the underlying factors beneath addiction. 

Addiction significantly affects cognitive processes. Therefore, denial adds another layer to the difficulties needed to be overcome. Once you are familiar with what you will face in learning how to help an addict who is in denial, the more secure you can feel in your efforts. The following factors are shared with the stages of denial:

  • Rationalizing and justifying behaviors often include manipulation and victimization that others caused the problem.
  • Minimizing the severity of the problem, including an accusatory attitude to deflect the acknowledgment of addiction, is a proven indication of denial. 
  • Unrealistic beliefs, including blaming others for making them use a substance
  • The addict can use avoidance behaviors when negative consequences occur regularly. 
  • Outright denial is a clear signal that there is a denial of addiction.
  • Disregarding that they are causing unusual harm to other people by being addicted and using denial behaviors and thinking. 

Guidelines For Addressing Denial in Addiction

Experts in treatment advise those learning how to help an addict who is in denial to begin their efforts with the reassurance of support. Timing is essential to success while maintaining calm and choosing words to use carefully. Leave out any angry or judgmental indicators and choose a relaxed and sober moment for beginning your efforts. Consider the following advice when starting your conversation about addiction. 

  • Ask for permission to talk about denial first and then the addiction. 
  • Be concise and specific about the denial with identifying factors for your concern. Then be specific about addiction behaviors with the same factors to reinforce your beliefs.
  • Always remain respectful and show your concern. Continually remind the addict that you are trying to be supportive.
  • Setting boundaries in the conversation to protect your well-being is crucial. 
  • Identify supportive measures and needs in concluding the conversation. Finally, ask for feedback from the conversation. Address all concerns.

Treatment is the goal; take it by the horns if an educational moment occurs. Suggest visiting a support group. Listen carefully to what your loved one is saying. Listening skills can be essential in learning how to help an addict who is in denial. Remain concerned, honest, and loving. Avoid blaming, judgments, and sarcasm when replying to feedback. 

Find Help for Learning How to Help an Addict in Denial in Georgia

If you are trying to help an addict who is in denial and lives in Georgia, the Retreat of Atlanta can assist you in your efforts. Professional and experienced staff are always ready to answer questions and offer guidance in difficult situations where denial is present. The treatment facility offers many options for treatment and recovery. Contact our center now for additional information that could lead to successful recovery.

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