Many people who have struggled with addiction will tell you that there is a lot of denial to confront, even in recovery. After all, without denial, few people would be able to justify continuing to use a substance that’s making them sick and their lives in shambles.
Denial, at its roots, is a coping mechanism that helps people rationalize behavior that is harmful. It’s also a way for a substance abuse disorder to prevent you from seeing the trust about addiction.
People with active addictions are not the only ones who have a problem with denial. Many family members, especially those that help enable a person with an addiction, can get caught up in the web of denial as well. It’s easy for people to tell themselves that the “addiction is not that bad” even as it rears its head in many ugly ways.
How Denial Works
Denial is a way to rationalize substance abuse, and it’s prevalent in people who have been using drugs or alcohol for a while. Some people merely minimize their addiction, saying it’s “not that bad” or that they only use a few times a week, other people in the throes of addiction may lie, cheat or steal.
Family members often have their unique types of denial, too. They may give somebody money because it’s safer for them to have a source of income. Or, they may bail their loved one out on jail repeatedly, making them promise never to get arrested again.
Addiction is a chronic disease of the brain, and it affects the whole family. Denial is merely a symptom,
A person with a substance use disorder can blind to the problems addiction is causing. For example, a person who abuses alcohol may get a DUI and tell their friends or family that they didn’t “have that many” drinks, but that the police were looking to bust somebody. That same person, a few years later, may have racked up more DUI’s or even gotten into bar fights, but still insist that “the system” is out to get them, even when it’s apparent to outsiders that it’s their drinking that’s out to get them.
Denial is the use of self-deception, rationalization, justifications, and excuses that help a person with an addictive disorder “explain” the substance they’re using isn’t the problem. Usually, this denial is instinctive, but a drug user also might lie to themselves and others, even if they know the truth about their situation. This same person may manipulate others to get their way or bait people for sympathy. Their ultimate goal is to keep on using their favorite substance.
Family members often use denial to enable their loved one and help them avoid consequences. It’s easy to be manipulated by a loved one when you want to see them do well. Sometimes a family member will try to care for a person who is abusing drugs or alcohol, not wanting to see them get hurt or into trouble.
It’s difficult to confront denial on your own, which is why having a strong support system can help you get clarity. If you’re using substances or drinking too much, it may be hard to take a look at the consequences of your behavior. Making an honest assessment can be emotional, which is why this is an ongoing part of recovery. A caring treatment program can help you explore denial and ways to overcome it in a safe environment of your peers. You’ll also learn new self-talk that can help you in everyday life to make empowering decisions.
Denial is something that everyone struggles with, even in recovery. When you let go of your denial and start to see the changes that you want to make, you’ll discover new possibilities in your new life.
Learning about your treatment options is an excellent way to leave your denial in the past, where it belongs, and start a new way of life. . Even if you think you’re “not ready,” we’re here to help you understand your treatment options. Give us a call at 866-227-1437 to learn more about how we can help you reclaim your life.