The power of these rationalizations is so strong that confronting an addict in denial is one of the most difficult things a loved one can do. Your loved one might not have any financial problems. He may have chalked up lost friendships to certain events or conversations — but never the bad judgment that results from a chronic substance abuse problem. After all, you or your loved one may be holding down a job, married with children, and have all the outward appearances of a healthy lifestyle.

Unfortunately, addiction is cunning, as Alcoholics Anonymous co-founder Bill W so succinctly noted. This means identifying a substance abuse problem can be more difficult than you ever thought possible.

Nevertheless, confronting an alcoholic or drug addict in denial is one of the most important ways to help them or yourself. If you notice any of the following symptoms in addition to denial, it’s time to have a conversation about quitting and getting help:

  1. Drinking or using drugs when alone.
  2. Drinking or using drugs at unusual times, such as in the morning.
  3. Keeping alcohol or drugs in unusual places, such as hidden in the home, the car or in a desk at work.
  4. Developing a tolerance to alcohol or drugs that requires taking more and more to get the same high.
  5. Combining multiple substances to get a stronger high, such as taking painkillers and drinking alcohol at the same time.
  6. Lying about or hiding how much or how frequently substance abuse takes place.
  7. Suffering from withdrawal symptoms, including anxiety and shakiness, when trying to stay sober.
  8. Legal problems resulting from substance abuse, such as a DUI.
  9. Ignoring old friends or once-loved activities to spend time using instead.
  10. Blacking out things that occurred when using drugs or alcohol.
  11. Relapsing into abuse after a period of sobriety, or alternating between periods of using and periods of sobriety.

Certain signs are unique to prescription drug abuse, which is the fastest growing substance problem in America. If you notice these signs — especially if they occur alongside any of those above — it’s time to confront your addicted loved one and get rid of denial:

-Taking more than the prescribed dose.

-Taking drugs for longer than prescribed.

-Taking drugs even though the original symptoms have disappeared.

-Getting more than one prescription from more than one doctor, just in case running out is a problem — this practice is illegal and is called “doctor shopping.”

-Altering a prescription drug to get a faster high, such as chopping and snorting.

-Switching to a stronger drug, such as heroin, because it’s cheaper.

If you know someone who is demonstrating these behaviors, it’s time to confront them and remove denial.







Choosing the right time to approach a loved one who is addicted and in denial is essential to convincing that person to seek treatment. Always pick a time when your loved one is sober — never pick a fight during periods of obvious use. Take the diary you kept that details the denial, and remember to stay calm. Have a clear plan of what you’re going to say and how you’re prepared to help.

Also avoid blame statements. Instead, phrase concerns conscientiously with “when you…I feel” statements. For example, “When you drink at parties, I feel like you start arguing with me in front of other people and that embarrasses me.” Or, “when you got that DUI, I worried a lot about how we are going to pay for a lawyer and how that will affect our reputations.”

When speaking to your struggling loved one, don’t let other people intrude on your conversation. Being confronted over drug and alcohol use can be embarrassing, and when others overhear or pile on, it can cause your loved one to feel more shameful and defensive. Identify the specific words and actions of your loved one that upset you, and identify the differences in personality that occur when your loved one is sober and when your loved one is using. State your desire to help your loved one get into rehab, as well as your commitment to stay involved during the entire process and work together to achieve a successful outcome.


Denial is a powerful coping mechanism used by people who are addicted to drugs or alcohol. They use denial to avoid understanding and addressing the feelings and thoughts that motivate using. The addict believes, subconsciously, that drinking and doing drugs does less damage than working to understand the pain and motivations that lie underneath. Those who question whether or not things are really “fine” are met with anger.

Although it can feel impossible to convince a loved one that substance abuse is a problem, there are many strategies you can use to help him recognize his addiction. It’s also important to continuously stress the long term consequences of denial, which may include:

  • Continuing to compromise reality for fantasy. The more your loved one refuses to accept that substance abuse is a problem, the worse his hold on reality will become.
  • Serious professional and financial damage. Although your loved one may be working securely now, a steep downward spiral is inevitable if abuse continues.
  • Permanently damaged relationships. People who are in denial are at risk of permanently damaging the trust of those who love them the most, including their spouses, children, parents and siblings.
  • Serious legal consequences. People who refuse to get help are at risk of losing their freedom, harming others or becoming the victim of violence.
  • Potentially fatal health problems. If your struggling loved one has developed heart disease, liver disease or other substance-related conditions, continuing to use is life threatening.

During your final attempts to reach your loved one, you must be prepared to hear some unpleasant truths about your own life. Your loved one may attempt to justify his behavior with your past actions. Be prepared to set limits — strive for a rational discussion of the problem and avoid a shouting match at all costs.

Refute each excuse with a calm and rational response, and don’t be afraid to acknowledge when your loved one is correct. You can try leaving your loved one with a book or website that talks about the signs and symptoms of substance abuse. Independent information given with no emotional attachment can sometimes convince a loved one to get help.


Keep in mind that even the most carefully-planned and perfectly-executed conversations about denial and addiction may end in a heated argument — and more denial. Remember, denial is characteristic of addiction. The last person to know is almost always the addicted individual. If you have already had multiple conversations and none of them turned out as planned, it may be time to consider an intervention.

During intervention, you and those who care for your struggling loved one will confront him about addiction and ask him to get help. It’s one of the most powerful tools in the fight against substance abuse, but it must be expertly planned and managed to achieve a successful outcome. Interventions are so challenging that they may even appear to fail at first. But even if an intervention “fails” at first, many individuals eventually admit that the intervention sparked their gradual acceptance of addiction.

Credited to:12 Keys Rehab

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