Waking up dazed and confused day in and day out isn’t a behavioral pattern that’s conducive to happiness. Neither is succumbing to incessant cravings and urges to drink or do drugs. The tendency to dismiss mounting negative consequences starts to take on a life of its own, with even more dire results. These signs of denial about a potential addiction are worth being aware of…
Understanding the Dynamics of Denial About an Addiction
Whether someone you love is in denial of addiction or you’re the one being accused of denial, there’s no question that the situation isn’t anything to dismiss or ignore. It could be that the signs of denial were there all along and gradually took on the semblance of normalcy. Symptoms of denial aren’t always familiar enough to raise any immediate concern. Yet denial and addiction go hand in hand, and it’s rare to experience addiction without corresponding denial of addiction.
If it is a case of denial, what signs should someone look for? Is there a test that can be applied, for example, if a loved one, family member, or even you appears to display symptoms of denial—especially drug addiction denial?
What Is Denial?
In essence, denial is a case of saying it isn’t so. Despite the reality that may be apparent to others, denial frequently happens when someone can’t or won’t face what they know deep inside to be true. This is particularly common in those who are abusing substances such as alcohol or drugs but is similarly common in people with process addictions, such as gambling, shopping addiction, tech addiction, and gaming addiction.
What Are the Signs of Denial?
What many people who live with or are regularly around those who abuse substances may see, yet refuse to acknowledge exists, are several telling signs and symptoms of denial, especially addiction denial. Outsiders may be quicker to recognize these symptoms of denial. That said, even those who are fairly knowledgeable about addiction sometimes have difficulty separating occasional telltale signs of denial relating to addiction from an individual’s normal character or behavior.
Classic signs of denial include:
- Refusal to talk about the issue or perceived problem, especially with loved ones but also with friends, co-workers, and others.
- Lying about whereabouts or activity, including financial expenditures related to drinking and drug use.
- The insistence that their drinking, drug use, or other addictive behavior is normal.
- Comparing one’s actions to those of others.
- The rationalization that everything is under control.
- Constantly making excuses for behavior.
- Blaming others for their problems.
- Not caring about the consequences of their actions.
- Making insincere promises to cut back, cut down, or stop addictive behavior.
- Alternating bouts of sobriety with being out of control.
- Being adamant about living life on their terms and remaining totally in control (even though their actions tell a far different story).
If you’re wondering if you’re in denial about addiction, consider the following questions:
- Do I refuse to accept criticism and well-meaning comments from others who tell me they see symptoms of addiction?
- Am I so stubborn that I can’t see how my life is deteriorating around me because of my addiction?
- Am I worried about the shame or stigma associated with addiction and, therefore, afraid to seek or accept help?
- How many times have I experienced blackouts or brownouts and can’t remember what happened after drinking and drug use?
- Have I ever lost a job or been reprimanded due to substance abuse?
- Am I being overlooked for promotion because I can’t be relied upon to complete my responsibilities?
- Have I lost time for unexplained illnesses and too many absences from the job?
- Is my family negatively affected by my addictive behavior?
- Have I lost control of my loved ones as a result of my drinking or drug use, lashing out at them with physical violence or verbal abuse?
- Have I repeatedly tried and failed to stay sober?
- Have I given up on long-held goals or personal dreams because I’m stuck in the cycle of addiction?
- Is there a family history of substance abuse, addiction, or a mental health disorder that might make it hard for me to recognize the signs and symptoms of addiction in myself?
- Do I no longer care about keeping promises I’ve made to my loved ones?
- Do I want to stop drinking and doing drugs or get help to manage the depression, anxiety, or other mental health disorders that are wreaking havoc on my life?
How to Overcome Denial
Symptoms of denial may become so self-evident that the individual displaying them decides to face up to the truth and get help to overcome the problem of addiction to substances or behaviors or the difficulty living life with a mental health disorder. On the other hand, denial may be so embedded that the addicted individual can’t recognize, let alone acknowledge, that they have a problem and need help to overcome it.
Nevertheless, professional counseling and behavioral and other treatments and therapies can address the denial that accompanies addiction and mental health disorders, as well as get at the root causes for such addiction and mental health issues. Then, continuing counseling and treatment, plus ongoing support from professionals and peers can help ensure forward momentum in recovery.
Having a heartfelt conversation or series of caring discussions about addiction and the sincere desire to overcome this weight can go a long way toward getting beyond denial of addiction and into treatment.
Where Is the Line Drawn? No Longer Deniable.
After months or years of denial that a problem with addiction or mental health issues exists, negative consequences accumulate and accelerate to a point of nearly irreversible personal decline. There’s no longer any shred of deniability that a problem exists. The people around the individual who are addicted or suffering from mental health issues can see it. So can the individual if they’re being honest with themself. When this point of no return occurs, it is often up to the loved ones and family members to insist that the individual accept help and get treatment if the individual refuses to do so.
It may very well be that by this time the person secretly wants to be encouraged to accept professional treatment since self-efforts to remedy the problem have not succeeded. Professional intervention may be required, and even recommended before the road to real recovery can begin.
How We’re the Expert
Overcoming fear about what treatment for addiction and mental health disorders entails is a huge hurdle for anyone who wants or needs help to overcome them. The perceived stigma that surrounds substance use disorders is also an obstacle, as they’re among the most stigmatized psychiatric conditions. However having a substance use disorder or mental illness is not indicative of a character flaw or that the person is somehow less worthy or capable than anyone else.
Addiction and mental health disorders do require professional help to overcome and learn to manage symptoms and how to live in recovery. This is true not only for the individual who has the addiction but also for the family members who want the best for their loved ones and themselves.
At FHE Health, we have years of experience and expertise in treating all types of addiction and mental health disorders. Dual-diagnosis, comprising addiction to alcohol or drugs and problems with depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, eating disorders, or process addictions are just some of the conditions we successfully treat.
If the signs of denial are recognizable, make the decision today to get help to overcome addiction by giving us a call or getting in touch with us for free, discreet, confidential, and comprehensive answers to your questions about what we can do to help. Don’t allow fear to stand in the way of taking proactive steps toward healing recovery. We are here to help and we are experts in the field of addiction treatment and recovery.