Help with Denial. It is very difficult to watch a family member or a loved one’s drinking spiral out of control and into an addiction. This is when denial sets in. Denial is used by all of us at some point in our lives. Maybe to justify our actions to ourselves or others whether it is consciously or subconsciously.
Common examples of this are a child hiding a bad report in fear of being told off, or someone dieting and saying, “one more cake won’t matter”, when knowing full well it does. That is denial. These examples are only minor examples, but for an alcoholic denial can be fatal. Alcoholics or individuals with drink problems will use denial to rationalise their way of thinking and behaviour.
Help with Denial – The common symptoms
The common symptoms are blaming their parents for their problems, which constitutes blaming others for their behaviour. They may end up lying to friends and family and hiding alcohol around the house. They may act in anger or anything where they do not have to admit they have an addiction. “You’re nagging is the reason I started drinking in the first place”. They will say anything to get you to stop going on, and except their drinking is normal. It helps them believe they are ok.
This normally makes you feel, “well maybe everyone drinks like this, and I am just making a load of fuss over nothing”. This in turn can start loved ones off on the road to drinking. The sad part of all this is, these thought processes become a way of life, and denial becomes a part of you. This protects you from the truth as you don’t really understand addiction. The sad part is, the addiction will only get worse. It will never improve until someone can break through the denial.
Dealing with denial can be a challenging aspect of addiction, as it can hinder the willingness to seek help and make positive changes. If you or someone you know is struggling with denial.
Here are some strategies that may be helpful:
- Education and awareness: Increase your understanding of addiction and its impact. Learn about the signs, symptoms, and consequences of addiction to gain a realistic perspective. This knowledge can help challenge denial by providing factual information.
- Encourage open communication: Create a safe and non-judgmental space for open communication. Express your concerns and observations regarding the addiction, and encourage the person in denial to share their thoughts and feelings. Active listening and empathy can help foster a sense of trust and understanding.
- Use reflective listening: Reflective listening involves paraphrasing and summarising what the person is saying to demonstrate that you understand their perspective. This can help them feel heard and valued, which may increase their receptiveness to considering alternative viewpoints.
- Gentle confrontation: Approach the person with care and compassion, expressing your concerns about their well-being and the impact their addiction may be having on their life and relationships. Use specific examples to illustrate your concerns, but avoid blaming or shaming language.
- Provide evidence: Share objective evidence of the consequences or negative effects of the addiction, such as financial problems, strained relationships, or deteriorating physical or mental health. This can help challenge the person’s denial by presenting tangible evidence of the impact of their addiction.
- Involve a professional: Encourage the person to seek professional help from a therapist, counsellor, or addiction specialist. A trained professional can help assess the situation, provide an objective perspective, and guide the individual towards understanding and accepting the reality of their addiction.
- Support groups: Suggest attending support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), Narcotics Anonymous (NA), or other appropriate groups related to the specific addiction. Hearing stories and experiences from others who have faced similar challenges can help break through denial and provide a sense of identification.
- Set boundaries: Establish and communicate clear boundaries regarding the behaviours and consequences associated with the addiction. Let the person know how their addiction affects you and others, and be prepared to enforce those boundaries if necessary. This can help create a sense of accountability and may prompt the person to reevaluate their denial.
- Interventions: In some cases, a professionally facilitated intervention may be appropriate. An intervention involves gathering a group of loved ones and a trained intervention specialist to confront the person in denial about their addiction, express concerns, and offer support. This can be a powerful tool to help break through denial and encourage the person to seek help.
- Practice self-care: Taking care of your own well-being is crucial when dealing with someone in denial. Set healthy boundaries, seek support from others, and engage in self-care activities that help you manage stress and maintain your own emotional well-being.
Remember, breaking through denial is a personal process, and individuals may require different approaches and time to accept the reality of their addiction. Patience, understanding, and persistence can make a difference. If the denial persists and the person’s safety or well-being is at risk, consider reaching out to professional intervention services or seeking guidance from addiction specialists.
If you are worried about your drinking habits, or a family member or a loved one, call our team today for some friendly help and advice. Tel: 07811 606 606, open 24 hours a day.