Helping an Addict in Denial


Everyone knows that admitting there is a problem to address represents the first and most important step in solving it. Nevertheless, doing so can be easier said than done. Which is particularly true when it comes to close friends and family members, who may be displaying signs of drug or alcohol addiction, though are clearly in a state of denial.

These days, drug rehab clinics can work absolute miracles for pretty much anyone with any kind of addiction problem at any level. Nevertheless, this is the kind of help and support that doesn’t simply fall into your lap.  Instead, you need to admit that there is a problem, seek professional advice and decide on the most appropriate course of action.

Dealing with these kinds of issues yourself is difficult, but can be even harder when the person in question is a close friend or family member. In many instances, it comes down to the individual’s loved ones to not necessarily staging an intervention, but ensure that the subject is brought out into the open.  That said, it is often more difficult than most people realise to accurately identify alcohol or drug addiction where it exists.

Nevertheless, there are a few common signs and symptoms, which when combined with denial typically suggest that the time has come to talk about the subject and perhaps speak to the professionals:

  1. Drinking or using drugs while alone
  2. Drinking or using drugs at non-typical times of the day or night, such as the first thing in the morning
  3. Any evidence of drugs or alcohol being hidden or deliberately kept out of view
  4. Tolerance levels becoming raised to such an extent that the individual continues taking or drinking more and more
  5. Mixing different drugs to increase the effect, or combining alcohol with other drugs
  6. Lying to friends and family members about alcohol or drug intake, by way of frequency, quantities and so on
  7. Withdrawal symptoms that go beyond the typical morning-after hangover
  8. Any signs of stress, anxiety or mood swings when the individual stop using drugs or alcohol
  9. Legal problems as a direct result of substance abuse or the respective after effects
  10. Dedicating increasingly less time to pursuits that the individual in question previously enjoyed
  11. Less available time to spend with friends and family members
  12. Blackouts or any kind of loss of memory attributed to excessive alcohol or drug use

While it’s not to say that any of the above warning signs categorically confirm a case of addiction, they should nonetheless be taken seriously. Denial always has and always will go hand in hand with addiction, though is something that can be overcome with a positive and proactive approach

Approaching a Loved One

It’s never easy to determine when and where the right time comes to approach a loved one in denial, though who clearly needs support and treatment. While it may seem like the best time to bring up the subject is when the individual in question is at their worst, it’s actually better to approach them when they are as sober and clear-headed as possible. Of course, the fact that they feel fine at the time may only add to their denial, but this could represent the only suitable time for a sensible and proactive conversation.

Prior to this intervention going ahead, it’s worth keeping a diary for some time beforehand. Keep a journal of the various activities and behaviours of the individual in question, as chances are they will ask for specific examples of when and where they have stepped over the line. The idea being that you know exactly what you are going to say and have clear examples to back up your arguments, rather than simply diving in randomly.

It’s also important to avoid being in any way overly aggressive or blameful.  Even if there is absolutely no excuse for the behaviour of the individual and they have nobody to blame but themselves, this is not the time to begin pointing the finger of blame. Instead, it is a time to focus on the importance of positive improvement, not only for the individual in question, but for those around them as well.

Given the sensitive and emotional nature of the subject, there is every likelihood that your efforts will not succeed the first time around. Nevertheless, initial setbacks do not constitute failure as with each further attempt to make, it will increasingly drive home both the severity of the problem and have committed you are to doing something about it.



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