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“I Can Handle It”: How to Help a Loved One Suffering From Addiction Who’s in Denial

Denial is a coping mechanism that many individuals use to justify their addiction. No one wants to admit they have a problem that is out of control.

June 20, 2019
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Denial is one of the most common roadblocks in getting help for an addiction. Many like to believe that they have control of the problem, that they can stop at any time as if nothing has happened. But that is far from the truth.

So what can you do to help loved ones from accepting their disease?

The Common Signs of Denial

“I have it under control. I can quit at any time.”

“I only drink on the weekend. One or two drinks isn’t going to kill me.”

“You have no idea what I go through at work. You would drink too if you were in my shoes.”

“I had a few beers after a stressful day. What’s the big deal?”

Do these phrases sound familiar? Then you may be dealing with someone who is in denial.

Denial is a coping mechanism that many individuals use to justify their addiction. No one wants to admit they have a problem that is out of control. Denial gives individuals a view of the world that they still are in control of their destiny. They do not want the stigma and shame that comes with addiction. And the longer they continue to deny the problem, the longer it takes for them to get help.

Some common behaviors of denial are as follows:

  • Minimizing the problem: Your loved one will think you’re exaggerating or believe you’re blowing things out of proportion. Common phrases include, “It’s not that bad,” or “Our neighbor Bob drinks way more than I do.”
  • Rationalize the situation: Your loved one will find excuses as to why a drink is needed. “It was a hard day at the office,” or “I won that big account! I’m just going to have a few celebratory beverages.”
  • In complete control: The individual believes he or she is in control of the situation and can stop. “I went a whole month without a drink,” or “I can stop coke any time, or I just don’t want to right now.”
  • The individual is a victim: Your loved one feels like he or she is under much more stress than anyone else needs drugs or alcohol as a coping mechanism. “You have no idea what I deal with,” or “If you dealt with as much stress I do, you would be drinking too.”

Is There Any Way to Help Someone in Denial?

You can’t force someone to admit having a problem; the individual needs to reach this conclusion on his/her own. You may feel powerless, but accepting a substance use disorder is a conclusion individuals need to arrive at on their own.

One approach is allowing the loved one to experience the consequences of alcoholism. For example, if your daughter receives a third DUI in less than a month, refuse to bail her out of jail.

Another approach is to hold an intervention. If you’re afraid that your loved one may not respond well to this method, it’s best to seek out the help of an experienced intervention specialist to conduct the intervention.

Although it is painful to see someone you love suffer, it’s important to remember this is a decision that must be made by the individual. Although you may feel discouraged, don’t give up hope just yet!

If you need help in learning more about the addiction treatment process, our doors are open. Contact Wavelengths Recovery today at 844-392-8342.




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Warren Boyd
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