Facing up to the truth of addiction is tough. All too often the denial of a situation can prolong the need to confront an issue. At ACT we talk to lots of people who are locked into this kind of vicious circle of addiction and denial. Refusing to acknowledge that you have an addiction is not uncommon and denial in addiction is very common. Read my blog to find out more about how this cycle of denial must be broken in order to fully engage with your recovery.
What is addiction denial?
Being in denial means a refusal to admit to a reality or truth. In addiction terms, denial of addiction prevents a person from admitting to the truth of what is actually happening. Denial is a natural human response to addiction, which can be a frightening place to be. Addicts can have very rigid thinking patterns when it comes to their addiction issues, which can be extremely hard to break.
Examples of this might be blaming other people for their problems or avoiding talking about them at all. If your loved one is behaving or responding in a way that you can’t penetrate, then it can be very frustrating and feel like an impossible pattern to break.
What to say to an addict in denial
Addiction will never get better without assistance. It’s a progressive situation that will only get worse and, the sooner you or the person you care for can get help, the better. Don’t leave it until things are at their worst – getting help early avoids the need for a person to reach rock bottom when it becomes much harder to penetrate that ingrained pattern of denial. It can be hard to know what to say to an addict in denial, but the important thing is to broach the subject head-on, in a supportive and sensitive manner, to instigate the help they need.
Helping an addict in denial
No matter how strong your commitment is to helping an addict in denial, it won’t be possible to break your loved one’s pattern of denial until they are ready to help themselves. This is when you might need to seek professional help. An intervention is a strategy used to motivate treatment-seeking behaviour. Interventions are usually set up and facilitated by an expert counsellor and actively supported by family, friends and partners/loved ones.
Caring in a collective capacity like this can really assist the person to see how their behaviour and addiction is affecting their family and wider circle of friends. An intervention like this gives everyone the chance to stand together in solidarity – to show how much they care and to let the person know that help is available.