A common aspect of substance use disorder is the feeling of denial. This doesn’t only apply to the person struggling with addiction, but it can transcend to their loved ones as well. Denial is a powerful defense mechanism and enables people to reject reality and bend it to fit their worldview. It’s difficult to accept the truths of an illness like addiction because it’s still shrouded in stigma and negativity that makes it more difficult for people who need help to come forward. Noticing the signs of denial surrounding addiction is essential in breaking the barriers of fear and ignorance towards getting someone the help they need.
Phrases like “I can stop whenever I want” and “I have control over the situation” are what friends and loved ones will hear over and over again. The strong denial of the problem is powerful because the person grappling with their substance misuse most often truly believes they can stop at any time. Their peers or family who join in on the denial may also begin to believe it too.
Though someone may start to realize that their substance misuse is getting out of hand and others are noticing, they will often shift blame onto reasons for their behavior. This tactic is usually done subconsciously and may even hold some grains of truth. A stressful work schedule, tumultuous relationships, and other common conflicts are used as valid reasons to misuse substances to “get away from it all” and cope.
Making comparative statements that lessen the severity of a person’s substance misuse is a prevalent denial tactic. They will frequently give the impression that they use less often and smaller doses than they do. Comments about how their substance of choice is “less harmful” than other drugs also minimize the situation.
When a person realizes that their substance misuse is not as under control as they previously had thought, many begin to rationalize their continued use by bargaining with themselves and others. They will think in terms of “one more time before I quit” and “I will use less, but I need it to function,” which will leave them in the same cyclical pattern as before.
Whether it’s intentional or not, those in denial of their addiction will instinctually lie and use sneaky behavior to conceal substance misuse or the severity of their condition. It’s a deep form of denial because they feel that as long as they can “keep up the act,” that they have even their closest loved ones fooled. However, this is often an illusion, and those who are showing concern will begin to feel distrust and contention in the relationship.
Breaking through addiction denial can be difficult, but our medical providers and competent staff at Middlesex Recovery are prepared to provide the best quality of addiction treatment. To learn more about getting started on the road to recovery, check out our helpful guide and contact us today with any questions.