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Denial : A symptom of addiction

Denial and addiction often go hand in hand. Many people we speak with are living alongside an addict or an alcoholic who refuses to acknowledge they have a problem, and may need help from an alcohol rehab facility. This is not uncommon and denial is very much a symptom of addiction. Often an addicted person is the very last to person to recognise the destruction caused by their behaviour.

In this blog we explore the concept of denial in relation to addiction and explain how to help someone in denial.

How to tackle denial in addiction

What is denial?

Denial is a refusal to admit reality or truth. In addiction, denial can be considered a mechanism that allows people to reject the truth of their situation. In this respect, although frustrating, we can see that denial in many ways is a natural response: the reality of addiction is frightening and the consequences may seem like too much to face.

An addicts denial can be extremely rigid and can manifest in many different ways:

  • Blaming: ‘My problems are not my fault – they’re yours!’
  • Minimising: ‘My problems aren’t so bad.’
  • Comparing: ‘I don’t drink in the mornings like real alcoholics do.’
  • Avoidance: ‘I’ll talk about everything apart from my addiction.’
  • Manipulating: ‘I’ll only get help if you sort it out and if it doesn’t work, it’s not my fault.’
  • Rationalising: ‘If you felt like me, you’d drink / use.’
  • Compliance: ‘I’ll pretend to seek help to get you off my back.’

How to help someone in denial

You want to help but until they are willing to help themselves you will reach a definite impasse. This is exactly where professional intervention can be useful.

A family intervention is a strategy to motivate treatment seeking behaviour. Interventions are normally facilitated by a counsellor, or interventionist, and actively supported by family, friends and anyone else who might be committed to the welfare of the addict. Their collective influence can provide a poignant illustration of the devastating effects that the addiction is having on an addict’s nearest and dearest. It is also an opportunity for solidarity, to show how much they care about that person’s welfare and that immediate help is at hand.

Port of Call can arrange a structured intervention that can sometimes be the breakthrough that is needed.

When to seek help

Addiction is a progressive illness. Leaving it to worsen, without help, is a course of action that we simply do not recommend. To avoid the potentially heartbreaking and traumatic consequences of addiction it is vital to secure help as soon as possible.

Don’t leave it until the person you are trying to help, reaches their lowest ebb. The sooner they can get help, the more effective treatment will be.

To find out more about how we can help, or to organise an intervention for your loved one, please speak to Port Of Call today on 08000029010.

About the author: Alex Molyneux

Alex is our admissions team leader. Over the last 5 years he has spoken with more than 10,000 people via our helpline and has organised over 1,000 detox and rehabilitation placements.

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