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How to Make An Addict in Denial Accept Treatment

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how to help an addict who is in denial

Addiction to drugs and alcohol can take a severe toll on a person’s mental and physical health. It can strain relationships and puts people at risk of financial or legal trouble. Addiction can also strain relationships. Living with addiction makes it nearly impossible to have loving, healthy relationships with friends and family members.

If you have a loved one who lives with substance abuse or addiction, you likely understand the intense emotions surrounding these conditions. You may feel worried, angry, frustrated, or sad as you watch your loved one struggle with the consequences of the addiction. Many people want to help an addicted loved one get the help they need to overcome addiction–but how?

It can be challenging to help convince an addict in denial to seek addiction treatment, especially if they do not seem to believe they have a problem. Denial is a powerful, often destructive coping mechanism that can keep people with addiction from getting treatment. As a friend or family member, there are things you can do to break through your loved one’s denial and encourage them to seek the help they need.

If you or a loved one require addiction treatment or support during recovery, reach out to the caring specialists at Woburn Wellness Addiction Treatment today.

What is Denial?

Denial is a coping mechanism that prevents people from realizing the severity of a problem or feeling its emotional impact. In some rare cases, denial can help a person during a stressful event. But most of the time, it prevents people from seeking the help they need to make a necessary change.

Denial may prevent people with addiction from realizing they need treatment. You might recognize some of the common signs of denial, including:

  • Minimizing: A person may deny they have a problem and downplay the effects of substance abuse in their lives. They may deflect concerns about their use by pointing out that other people use or drink more than they do. They might also accuse others of exaggerating their substance abuse.
  • Rationalizing: Your loved one may say they need to use drugs or alcohol to deal with the stress in their life or function well in their work. They might blame other people’s behaviors or other external circumstances for their substance abuse.
  • Self-deception: Your loved one might say their substance abuse “isn’t that bad” and downplay the negative consequences they are experiencing.
how to help an addict who is in denial

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Woburn Wellness Addiction Treatment is a leader in the addiction treatment field, with proven success in facilitating long-term recovery. Our team of top clinical & medical experts specializes in treating addiction coupled with mental illness, ensuring that each person receives individualized care. Call us – we’re available 24/day, 7 days/week.

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People may struggle to continue to maintain their denial as the consequences of their substance abuse grow more serious. But denial can be a powerful force. Participating in addiction treatment is the only way to recognize and overcome it for many people

The Connection Between Denial and Addiction

If someone who struggles with substance abuse is in denial, it is less likely they will get the treatment they need to overcome their addiction. This can result in people living with the addiction for a long time. Denial can last for a short time or linger for months or even years. Despite negative consequences that are obvious to outsiders, an addicted person may deny that their substance abuse requires attention.

Without treatment, people living with addiction will often face some degree of harm to their mental or physical health, relationships, and other essential aspects of their lives. To avoid life-threatening medical issues, serious legal or financial problems, or loss of relationships, people must get the treatment they need as soon as possible.

Denial prevents people from recognizing that they have a serious problem with substance abuse. In many cases, it takes a severe event–an accident, the loss of a relationship, grave harm to their health–to break free from denial. However, in some cases, friends and family can take action to get through to their addicted loved ones and help them move past denial.

Helping an addict who is in denial can be frustrating, but trying is essential. The treatment could save your loved one’s life. No one chooses addiction. It is a complex condition that involves biological, genetic, and psychological factors. Your help may be the push your loved one to heal their health.

Steps to Take to Help an Addict in Denial

First, it is important to practice good self-care and boundaries when supporting someone with an addiction. Find a therapist, support group, or counselor who can give you practical and emotional support during this time.

When it comes to boundaries, it’s vital that you establish and uphold firm boundaries. You should also stop enabling their addictive behaviors.

People who are in denial about their addiction often believe their addiction isn’t that bad because they still have a job, housing, family, relationships, and money in the bank. Although losing any single one of these things is painful, that pain can be the wake-up call that your loved one needs to realize that they need professional help. By upholding firm boundaries and stopping enabling, you will no longer be shielding your loved ones from the consequences of their addiction. When they face these consequences head-on, your loved one may be more open to the idea of going to treatment.

Learn as much as you can about addiction and treatment, and talk to other people who are concerned about your loved one. Together, you may want to consider staging an intervention.
An intervention is a planned event where an addicted person’s friends and family members express their concern and support and ask them to begin treatment immediately. An intervention can be an effective way to help break through denial and get the addicted person to realize they need help.

Get Help Now

At Woburn Wellness Addiction Treatment, we have flexible outpatient programs as well as a short-term drug rehab for people who aren’t quite ready to commit to long-term care or a residential program. Our team is also available 24/7 to speak with you or a loved one about starting treatment. Sometimes, all it takes to help an addict in denial go to rehab is to get them on the phone with a professional. For information about starting an addiction treatment program, reach out to the specialists at Woburn Wellness Addiction Treatment today.

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Medically Reviewed By

Inessa Maloney, MS, LMHC Clinical Director
Learn about Inessa Maloney

Inessa Maloney, MS, LMHC has been dedicated to the mental health and substance abuse field for a decade, providing her expertise to guarantee quality and accuracy.

  • Specializes in outpatient services with a focus on substance abuse
  • Expertise in reality-based therapy, CBT/DBT, and motivational interviewing
  • Holds a Master’s Degree in Professional Counseling
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