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Are You In Denial About Addiction? Why Admitting You Have a Problem Is the Hardest Part

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What is addiction denial and how does it keep people from seeking treatment?  Addiction denial means someone makes excuses to justify their substance use.  Do you continue to use drugs or alcohol regardless of the negative consequences?  If so, you may be in denial about addiction.  Unfortunately, your continued substance use can lead to long-term medical issues, overdose, or death.

You need to be open and honest with yourself about your substance use and recognize the impact it has on your life and the lives of those around you.  To find out if you are in denial about addiction, take a look at some of the symptoms of denial.

Symptoms of a Person in Denial About Addiction

Denial About AddictionWhile everyone deals with substance use issues differently, they do share some common symptoms of denial.  For example:

  • Irritability or argumentative behavior if substance use is mentioned.  You make excuses or justify the substance use as being only “recreational.”
  • You blame outside factors such as other people or stressful situations as a basis for substance use.  
  • Make statements such as “I know my limits” or “I would know if I was addicted.”
  • You think you aren’t hurting anyone but yourself.
  • You make promises you know you won’t keep.
  • Are evasive and secretive about your substance use.

People in denial are convinced they are somehow different from other people with substance use disorders.  Changing one’s mindset is the key to overcoming denial and addiction.

Why Is It So Hard to Admit You Have a Problem?

Addiction and denial often go hand in hand.  As humans, we like to believe we are in control of our lives.  We don’t want to be judged or viewed as weak.  This mindset is responsible for keeping someone in denial when it comes to facing the truth about their substance use.  Sadly, many people stick to this mindset even after their addictive behaviors lead to mental health issues, compromised health, or legal trouble.

You may find it helpful to understand some of the reasons why people find it difficult to admit they have a drug or alcohol problem.  

Some of the main reasons for denial about addiction include:

  • Social Stigma: The negative public perception of substance use plays a significant role in a person’s denial about addiction.  Trying to avoid being judged, a person will downplay or hide their substance use from friends, family, coworkers, and more importantly, from themselves.
  • Self-Esteem Issues: Admitting to a substance use problem can be a threat to your self-esteem.  You deny the truth to protect your self-esteem.  But, even if you have high self-esteem, continued substance use can eventually damage your self-image.  If you have low self-esteem, a professional treatment program will help you rebuild your confidence and restore your self-esteem.
  • Enablement from Others: An enabler is someone who supports your substance use.  It could be a friend or family member who encourages excessive drug or alcohol use.  Also, an enabler can be someone who loans you money, provides shelter, or otherwise facilitates your substance use behavior.  The denial keeps you from letting them down or looking like the bad guy.

How to Overcome Denial About Addiction and Get On the Path to Recovery

Unwillingness or inability to accept reality is a common sign of addiction.  Denial is one of the most powerful barriers to recovery.  Instead of facing the facts about what’s happening, denial allows you to minimize the severity of the situation.  But, it can be overcome.  

Some effective ways to overcome denial about addiction:

  • Keep a journal about how much and how often you use drugs or alcohol.  You may be able to accept the truth after seeing it in writing.
  • Think about why you are afraid to admit you have a problem.  Talk to friends or family members about your feelings of fear, shame, rejection, guilt, judgment, and criticism.  Acknowledging these feelings will help you move beyond them and reach out for help.
  • Talk with a therapist.  A licensed therapist will help you identify and change the thought patterns that contributed to the denial and addiction in the first place.
  • Think about the potential negative consequences that will occur if you continue to use addictive substances.  
  • Participate in a support group.  You may find it helpful to realize that you aren’t the only one struggling with this issue.

You may have to face some feelings of guilt or shame, but acknowledging the truth will help you get the professional treatment you need.  

Your Next Step:  Contact Design for Change Recovery for Effective Treatment

Overcoming denial about addiction is your first step in recovery.  The next step is to begin an evidence-based, fully-accredited addiction treatment program.  As part of our program at Design for Change, we will help you overcome denial, rebuild your self-confidence and self-esteem, and  avoid future drug use.  

Our comprehensive curriculum includes cognitive behavioral therapy, group and individual counseling, holistic treatment methods, education about drugs and addiction, and more.  

You can begin your journey away from substance abuse by contacting Design for Change Recovery in Lancaster, CA, today.    


Are You In Denial About Addiction? Why Admitting You Have a Problem Is the Hardest Part