Denial can be a serious trap when it comes to addiction and substance abuse. An individual who is addicted and in denial is obviously very unlikely to change their habits, let go of their addiction, and seek recovery and treatment. Individuals who face addiction too often choose to ignore their problems, deny their existence, and instead make excuses to cope with them rather than face them head on and work towards rehabilitation and a new life.
Like other coping mechanisms related to addiction, denial can often be too effective for those suffering from substance abuse, in that it creates a ready-made mindset to excuse and ignore damaging behaviors and protect the ego and self from the realities of addiction. Addicts who suffer with denial issues refuse to tell themselves and others that they have a problem. In doing so, they can never truly address their problems if they don’t first acknowledge their existence and power. Denial can be so strong that it may be even a bigger problem than the addiction itself in some cases.
Denial can be used as a coping mechanism in that it gives the addict a seemingly legitimate justification for substance abuse, as it is used as a means to continue living their current damaging life without adjusting to the consequences. The real danger here is that, whether consciously or sub-consciously, addicts can become very talented at denying their problems and changing their substance abuse realities to boost their denial and exacerbate their problems. These continued half-truths and flat out lies only encourage justification for more substance abuse.
The typical way to end the denial cycle in addicts is to hit rock bottom; that is, their life gets so bad and meaningless, that they are unable to ignore reality. Hitting that rock bottom places often wakes up an addict to seek help and make use of that painful insight to finally create some good in their lives. There is no advantage, though, to riding denial all the way to rock bottom and letting an addict crash, as this can often mean death. So, it is imperative for family, friends, and medical professionals to try and encourage treatment before that rock bottom phase.
Denial is very difficult to escape, but it can be done with the help of others and the total confrontation of reality. Addiction therapists are trained specifically to help abusers come to terms with their problems, and because of that, will be uniquely qualified to confront and stop the pattern of denial. Counseling goes a long way to allow the former addict to confront their denial pattern and deal with it adequately.
It can be difficult to gain insight on denial as it relates to substance abuse, but it’s imperative that people suffering from both seek treatment and rehabilitation for the addiction and the denial. Trained therapists, psychologists, and other medical professionals can immediately stop denial behaviors through therapy, group work, and extensive counseling of the former addict. Doing so will allow them to come to terms with their life, their faults, and most importantly, their future.