There are many things that a person uses as an excuse in order to continue their substance abuse. Many of those excuses stem from being in denial. Denial is common in many people who struggle with addiction. The purpose of this article is to look at the role denial plays in addiction. More specifically, this article will discuss where denial manifests, a denial theory, how to overcome denial, and what’s to gain from getting help. This information can be helpful to anyone who believes that they may have an addiction. Additionally, this information can be used if you have a loved one who is refusing to seek help for their addiction.
If you or a loved one is suffering from addiction and is in denial, please call 706-480-8733 to speak to an addiction specialist. We can connect you with a treatment center. Do not lose hope. There is a light at the end of the tunnel of denial and addiction.
The Connection Between Addiction and Denial
If you have ever had experience confronting a person about an issue, especially if that issue is an addiction, you may have been met with denial. This likely has made you frustrated and has quite possibly created more tension between you and the person you are trying to help. What is it that causes people to be in denial in the first place? Understanding the answer to this will make it much easier for you to help an addict.
Simply put, denial is a self-defense mechanism. This self-defense mechanism causes a person to become “blind” to any problems that have arisen from their addiction. This can also be explained as living in ignorance. Addicts tend to stay in denial. This is because if they realized the troubles their addiction is causing they would have to face the truth.
Here are some of the thought processes that someone in denial will tell themselves or others. Most of what someone in denial will say has to do with the justification of why they use their particular substance.
An addict in denial may know deep down that they have the symptoms for addiction. However, they may try to rationalize or make excuses as to why they have those symptoms. For example, they may say that they are just drinking to calm themselves down after a long day. They may use the symptoms they don’t have as justification that they do not have a problem. For instance, they may say “I don’t really have a problem because I haven’t been arrested.” An addict may even admit to being an addict but shift the blame to someone else. They may say “I wouldn’t have to drink if it wasn’t for a so-and-so.” This could be a spouse, boss, neighbor, or even children.
The Mental Impairment Model of Denial
Researchers on alcohol and other drugs (AOD) have come up with six theories as to why people are in denial as a result of their addiction.
One of the more unique theories is what is called the ‘mental impairment model of denial.’ This model essentially focuses on how the substance has interfered with the neurocognitive abilities of an addict’s brain. Due to this neurocognitive impairment, an addict is more likely to exhibit denial. Two mental impairments have been identified: short term impairment and long term impairment. Neurotoxicity impairment can be shown from the effects of alcohol abuse. Clinical research has shown that alcoholic dementia impacts the frontal lobes and right hemisphere of the brain. These areas are responsible for monitoring an individual’s interpersonal world. Therefore, ‘anosagnosia’, or ‘an inability to comprehend the negative implications of one’s predicament may occur.
This particular model is more interesting to highlight than the other five due to the fact that it implies a person is in denial because they are wired that way. It’s not to say that they are ignoring the problems of their addiction rather they are unable to properly perceive them. So, when those thought processes occur it could be because the self-defense mechanism has suffered due to brain damage. The importance of this theory shows that it is vital to look at different methods on how to confront an addict in denial. Just confronting them with the idea that they are being stubborn or delusional may not be the best course of action. A loved one could take a more empathetic and cognitive approach. It is important to keep in mind, this is just one of six theories. However, it still should be understood and considered.
You may be struggling with addiction and you may be in denial about your addiction. If that is the case, then keep reading for information on how to get out of the denial mindset and questions you can ask yourself if you are struggling to identify addiction. First, let’s look at how to get out of the denial mindset. It is all about being receptive to other people’s concerns and complaints as best as you can. If you have been under the influence and have displayed inappropriate behavior try not to make excuses for it. Really think about why you are doing certain things. It can be difficult, but accepting you have a problem is the first step to recovery.
It may be hard, but try to stay open-minded to the idea that you could potentially be an addict. This is especially true if you find yourself being confronted by individuals about your behavior when using drugs or alcohol. Also, keep in mind that realizing that you have a problem doesn’t make you weak and isn’t a poor reflection on your character. All of us are human, and all of us need help at some point throughout our lives.
Additionally, there are some questions you should ask yourself if you think your addiction is out of control. These questions should be answered with honesty, even if they are difficult to answer. These questions include:
- Are the people around you concerned or complain about your substance abuse?
- Are you taking drugs the first thing in the morning or multiple times throughout the day?
- Do you lie about taking drugs or the quantity of drugs when others confront you?
- When taking substances are you engaging in risky or dangerous activities? (i.e. driving under the influence, or having unprotected sex)
- Are you stealing possessions or money to pay for your drug habit?
- Are your behaviors drastically changing while using drugs or alcohol?
Answering these questions can give you a better understanding of how your substance addiction has caused problems in your life.
The Importance of Treatment
Maybe part of the reason for denial is due to fear of what could happen if they stop using drugs or alcohol. This is a normal feeling that many individuals who struggle with addiction feel. Unfortunately, it has been reported that 5% of the world’s population has used illicit drugs within the past year. However, living without substances is possible and it is a better way to live your life. You can gain so much from living a sober life. You will be able to save your life, since abusing drugs or alcohol can have detrimental effects on your vital organs. Additionally, you will be able to maintain a better state of well being both physically and mentally.
A recovering addict will also be able to connect with others and have better personal and professional relationships in their life. Also, they’ll be able to gain a better sense of meaning in their life and learn to love themselves.
Dealing with someone who has a denial towards their substance addiction may seem like a lost cause. However, when you know what there is to gain from treatment relaying that information to an addict can help change their outlook. It is vital to keep in mind that anyone can recover from addiction, no matter how long they have struggled. No one is too old to break free from addiction. Treatment facilities have clients of all ages, young and old. The same goes for any kind of addiction, every type of addiction can be treated in a rehab facility. Once an addict visits a recovery center they’ll soon realize that getting treatment isn’t as scary as it seems.
Denial in addiction occurs extremely frequently. Before any kind of treatment can begin it is ideal that an addict comes to terms with their own denial. However, this is not always the case, as sometimes addicts are pushed into treatment. Being in denial even when those around you have shared their concerns with you doesn’t do any good. Recovery is all about being honest with yourself, and really listening to what others have to say. Remember, admitting you have a substance abuse problem will not paint you as a bad person. The best way to get help is through an addiction treatment center. In a treatment center, an addict will be able to get personalized treatment in order to recover more efficiently. Highly trained staff members work around the clock to ensure that patient’s needs are met.
Addiction is nothing to take lightly, don’t let denial keep you from getting the help you need. If you or a loved one is suffering from addiction and are in denial, please call 706-480-8733 and speak to an addiction specialist. Do not lose hope! You can overcome addiction.
Written by: Irfan Jeddy