The Danger of Denial in Substance Abuse
The development of an addiction is hard to fight, particularly when an individual denies that he or she has a problem. Although denial may not seem harmful, it does present a problem when it comes to fighting the addiction and seeking appropriate help.
Potential Problems With Denial
Denying that a problem exists is a primary concern in addiction for a few key reasons.
The reasons denial is harmful include:
- Refusing to seek treatment
- Ignoring the signs of health problems
- Getting defensive when loved ones speak out
- Potentially violent behaviors
Depending on the substance that is abused and the individual, the exact problem and risks involved will vary. In some cases, denial can result in violent behavior toward loved ones, medical professionals or others involved in the treatment process.
According to the USDA, addiction can result in the development of blinders. The blinders prevent a loved one from recognizing that there is a problem because they feel that it is possible to give up the substance at any time that they wish. Although that natural defense against treatment may seem logical, it is only delaying treatment.
Denial is normal when a loved one is abusing drugs or alcohol. It is important to get beyond denial so that treatment is possible and will work.
Getting Past Denial
When a loved one is denying that an addiction has developed, it is necessary to work on getting past that stage so that they will go into a treatment program. Help Guide suggests speaking up about worrisome behavior and pointing out their actions as specific examples to show a loved one that they really do have a problem with the substance.
The USDA notes that it may be tempting for an individual to attempt to ignore or push aside loved ones who express concern because they do not realize that they have a problem. Helping a loved one fight an addiction requires commitment to their recovery and focusing on their needs by telling them and persistently suggesting treatment. Giving up half-way through will only cause them to assume that they were right.
Denial is a dangerous part of addiction because it prevents an individual from seeking the help that they need. A loved one can help by speaking up about concerns and remaining persistent about the problem.
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