Dealing with Denial in a Loved One

young couple arguing in their living room

Denial is a very common behavior among addicts and a very serious one, as it can prevent a person from receiving the addiction treatment they need. In knowing how to deal with denial, you can help a loved one overcome a primary barrier to lifelong recovery and get them into an outpatient treatment program.

Definition and Impact of Denial

Denial is a form of self-deception which is characterized by refusing to acknowledge or accept the realities of a situation. It is also a defense mechanism used to keep threatening emotions from coming to the surface. An addict may believe they aren’t hurting anyone or that they are in control of their addiction. They may also believe they need to use in order to cope with life.

As time goes on and denial continues, an addict may become withdrawn and spend more time with those who use. Ongoing denial can also cause codependency, which keeps an addict in a constant state of helplessness. Denial also damages relationships with family and friends.

Approaches to Dealing with Denial

The first thing to understand is that no addict will acknowledge their substance use disorder or change their behavior until they’re ready to. That being said, there are ways to try to convince your loved one to think about what they’re doing.

What You Need to Do

Remaining calm is the best thing you can do when talking to your loved one. Being non-judgmental is also critical; talk about how their behavior affects you. In terms of timing, always approach your loved one when they are sober. Just after they wake up can be ideal, as they haven’t yet had time to use.

Effective Talking Tactics

Share a positive memory of an event with your loved one that occurred prior to their addiction. This can help them remember who they used to be. You can also ask them if how they are living now has become unacceptable to them. Both of these can open the doors for change.

There are also more aggressive ways to help. Truth can be a powerful way to help to jar a loved one out of their denial. For example, you can tell them you love them very much, and then explain the consequences of their continued drug use, such as loss of money, loss of a spouse, and loss of self-respect.

An organized intervention is another option which can be effective. However, it should be done with the involvement and guidance of an experienced addiction treatment specialist.

people talking in circle during group meeting

Education and Treatment

Education can help a loved one realize their addiction and recognize denial, and treatment is the only way to give an addict the best chance of recovery and reverse addiction’s negative effects on health and relationships. Rehab outpatient programs from BlueCrest Recovery Center provide education and treatment in the same space.

We help addicts break the cycle of their addiction through holistic treatment that addresses mind, body, and spirit. Learn more about our outpatient programs today; call 973-298-5776.