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You’ve probably heard this before: the first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem.
When addicts are in denial about the severity of their situation, it’s tough to get them on the road to recovery. Denial leads to avoidance and can send an addict further away from the help they need.
Drug and alcohol addiction has a severe impact on the health of someone who doesn’t realize they have a problem. It’s important to help anyone struggling with addiction to realize they need help, but how do you recognize the symptoms of denial?
Keep reading to learn some of the common signs of people that are in denial about their addiction.
What is Addiction?
Addiction is a severe condition that causes people to compulsively and repeatedly engage in damaging behavior. An addict might know they can’t go very long without using drugs or alcohol, but in many cases, an addict doesn’t realize the extreme nature of their compulsive behavior.
Addiction recovery can’t begin until an addict realizes they have a problem. They must also admit they have an addiction that requires treatment for a full recovery. If an addict can’t or won’t recognize that they have a problem, we consider them to be “in denial.”
There are several signs that you or someone you know is in denial about needing addiction help.
1. You Avoid Talking About It
Every time a friend brings it up, you refuse to talk about it. They point out that you’ve had too many drinks, but you walk away from the conversation. Your friends try to talk to you about your drug-addicted behavior, but you refuse to take their calls.
People who need addiction help often feel like it’s not worth discussing the issue. They won’t answer questions, and they won’t admit to the problem. Addicts often avoid people and social situations when they feel like they’ll have to talk about their excessive drug or alcohol use.
If your friends struggle to engage you in conversation about your extreme drinking or drug habits, you could be in denial that you have a problem.
2. You Compare Your Behavior to Others
Addicts will often compare their behavior to others. This helps them justify their drug or alcohol use as “acceptable.”
However, one person’s level of drinking might not be addictive for them, while an addict struggles to say “no” to one more drink. Basing your behavior on someone else is a way to deny a problem.
When recognizing the signs of denial, look at how often you compare how much you drink or use drugs to others’ behavior. Listen for these types of responses when you talk with friends who confront you about your drug or alcohol use:
- “But she’s had more to drink than I have.”
- “She has a glass of wine every night. Why is it a problem when I do that?”
- “I only use it when I’m at a party, just like he does. I’m fine.”
Comparison is an addict’s way of deflecting the attention from their severe addiction. Using this technique is an attempt to distract from the problem and getting help.
3. You Try to Convince Others You’re In Control
Minimizing the severity of addiction is a way to deny the problem. If you try to convince your friends or loved one that your drug or alcohol use is “under control,” you could be denying that you have a problem.
If no addiction exists, there’s no need to convince anyone that you don’t use “too much” or “too often.” Telling yourself or others that you can use “a little,” and you have everything under control is a dangerous form of denial.
An addict cannot control their drug or alcohol use. It’s all or nothing when in recovery. If you are an addict who still drinks “from time to time” or uses drugs “only at parties,” you’re refusing to believe the seriousness of your addiction.
A “little” most often leads to “a lot” and a dangerous situation for addicts.
4. You Don’t Care About Consequences
A drug overdose or a DUI doesn’t change the behavior of someone who denies they have an addiction. They’ll often blame the circumstances of an overdose on “bad” drugs or a bad day. An addict might blame a DUI on a cop or the bartender who overserved them.
No matter how many times you lose a job because you show up to work under the influence or you lose a relationship because your drug habit is more important, an addict in denial won’t connect the dots between these consequences and their addictive behavior.
To get help, an addict must care about the consequences of addictive behavior.
5. You Don’t See it As a Problem
Addicts in denial are okay with their behavior. Not holding a job, not having any money, using others for a place to stay, and other poor behaviors don’t seem like a bad way of life to an addict in denial.
When an addict goes from one enabler to the next to support their habit and their lifestyle, they’re in denial. Addicts will convince themselves that this is “just the way they are,” and they can live this way if they want to do so.
If you feel like you don’t have a problem—but everyone else does—you could be in denial.
Being In Denial Is Dangerous
Being in denial about addiction is a dangerous situation. However, it’s difficult to convince anyone they have an addiction problem until they’re ready to see it on their own.
Asana Recovery is here to help you face your addiction and begin your recovery. Recognizing you are struggling with addiction means have a clear perspective about your behavior. With our team of experts, we help addicts stay focused and find a balance to maintain a successful recovery.
If you or someone you know needs help from addiction, contact us today.