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How to Help an Addict Push Through Denial

Addiction is a complex condition that can cause significant harm in most aspects of a person’s life. Living with addiction often leads to damage to your physical health and emotional wellbeing. It can destroy relationships and take people down paths of financial and legal trouble. The effects of untreated addictions can last for years–or for life. 

Comprehensive addiction treatment can give people the tools, support, and coping skills to overcome addiction and stay sober for life. For many people, completing a treatment program is the first step toward a healthy, fulfilling lifestyle they choose. 

The first step in getting the help you need is recognizing that there is a problem. While it is sometimes clear to people that they need help, others are unable–or unwilling–to recognize the severity of their addiction. This is often a result of being in denial.

Denial is a coping mechanism that prevents people from realizing the depth of a problem. If an addicted person is in denial about their addiction and its consequences, denial can be a barrier to getting the help they need to recover.

It can be distressing to see someone you care about struggling with addiction. There are effective ways of reaching someone in denial. 

Watching someone you love face the mounting consequences of untreated addiction is painful. At the Mandala Healing Center, we want to give you the information you need to make the best choices for you and your loved one. Learning about addiction and knowing how to help an addict who is in denial is the first step in getting your loved one the help they need. 

Understanding the Connection Between Denial and Addiction

Without treatment, people living with addiction will often experience some level of harm to their mental or physical health, relationships, and other critical aspects of their lives. To avoid life-threatening medical issues, serious legal or financial problems, or loss of relationships, people must get the treatment they need as early as possible.

If someone who struggles with substance abuse is in denial, it is less likely they will get the treatment they need to overcome their addiction. This often results in people living with the addiction for a long time. Denial can last a short period or can linger for months or even years. Despite continuous negative consequences, a person may deny that their substance abuse is a problem that needs attention.

Denial keeps people from getting the treatment they need, and this can result in a more severe, deeply-rooted addiction. For the best chance at a full recovery, it is important to try to break through the addicted person’s denial as soon as you recognize a problem. This can be very difficult, but it is important to keep trying. 

Signs of Denial

Denial can sometimes be difficult to recognize because it may be subtle. Denial is recognizable by certain behaviors, including:

  • Minimizing: A person may deny they have a problem by downplaying the effects of substance abuse in their lives. They may point out others who use substances more heavily than they do or accuse others of exaggerating their addiction.
  • Rationalizing: The person will have excuses about why they have to use substances. They may blame others’ behaviors for their substance abuse or point out how much stress they have. 
  • Self-deception: The person may downplay any negative consequences of their substance abuse or insist that it’s “not that bad”. 

As the effects of substance abuse begin to worsen, it becomes harder for people to continue to maintain their denial. However, denial can be powerful and people may need significant help to break through it. 

How to Help an Addict Who is in Denial

Some people have such deeply-rooted denial that it can take a serious event–an accident or medical event, a serious legal issue, the loss of an important relationship–to break through it. However, friends and family may be able to help an addict in denial by staging an intervention.

An intervention is a planned event where an addicted person’s friends and family members express their concern and support and ask them to begin treatment immediately. An intervention can be an effective way to help break through denial and get an addicted person to realize they need help.

How Do People Work Through Denial in Treatment?

Once someone begins treatment, there are many therapies used to help people work through denial. This is an important aspect of lifelong addiction recovery. Denial is addressed in several ways, including:

  • Individual therapy, including Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and Dialectical-behavioral therapy (DBT)
  • Group therapy
  • Family therapy
  • Education about addiction
  • Holistic therapies–meditation, yoga, journaling, mindfulness, and other treatments to support healing

The goal of addiction treatment is to help people identify the sources of their addiction and learn new, healthy coping mechanisms. Working past denial and learning to stay grounded in the present is part of many comprehensive treatment programs. 

Learn More About Denial and Addiction at the Mandala Healing Center

If you or someone you love live with addiction or you need support in addiction recovery, reach out to the caring specialists at the Mandala Healing Center. We offer a range of programs designed to empower people as they recover from addiction and embrace sobriety. 

Don’t wait another day for the treatment you need. Reach out to us today to get started.