Perhaps the greatest obstacle for the drug addict to overcome is denial. In this article, we hope to give some insight into what the denial process often looks like for the active drug addict and how he or she (or a loved one) can help overcome this obstacle.
What Is Drug Addiction?
According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, addiction is defined as a “chronic, relapsing brain disease that is characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use, despite harmful consequences. It is considered a brain disease because drugs change the brain; they change its structure and how it works. These brain changes can be long lasting and can lead to many harmful, often self-destructive, behaviors.”
While not every drug addict will come to the same definition as characterized above, the one belief that is typically universal is that the addict has no control when it comes to stopping. They may go a day, a week, a month or even longer without getting high, but the compulsion to use again is pervasive. Without treatment, they will use drugs again.
Am I An Addict In Denial?
There is a long-held truism in recovery circles: If you think you might be an addict, you probably are one. While there are always exceptions to this rule, it is a universal truth that, as humans, we are commonly presented with the cold hard facts, only to stubbornly and even dangerously deny what we see. An addict will deny such evidence even in the face of losing everything, including their own life. So, what sets this level of denial apart from just plain old stubbornness? Why might an addict be willing to die rather than face the truth?
Spotting The Voice Of Denial
It is not uncommon for an addict to deny they have a problem. Denial is a powerful survival mechanism that enables the addict to continue using and thus continue to avoid the truth.
Denial manifests in the addicted person in numerous ways. One such way is justification of the addictive behavior. Such justifications might include:
- I can stop whenever I want, I just don’t want to. I’m in control!
- My drug use is not affecting anyone but me.
- If I were an addict, would I still have (a job, family, nice house, etc.)?
- I’ve never been arrested.
- I only drink/drug after 5 pm and/or socially.
- I’ve never used hard drugs.
- My kids have never seen me high.
One of the first steps toward breaking out of the shadow of denial is to accept that there is no foolproof checklist of what does or does not constitute an addict. Addiction cannot be defined (or assigned) based on what has or hasn’t happened to a person. In fact, many self-proclaimed alcoholics have never had a DUI, while many DUI’s have been given to people who do not identify as being an alcoholic. Measuring against external circumstances is just another clever way the addict is able to prop up their denial.
How To Overcome Denial
The first step in combating denial in drug addiction is to get clean and sober. Someone who is actively using is unable to make an honest assessment of their situation. Going to a professionally managed detox center is often an important first step when it comes to overcoming drug addiction. Once the body is clean, a true roadmap to sobriety can begin. By relying on an addiction specialist to recommend the course of action, the drug addict is in a better place to turn their life around.
If you or a loved one is living in denial about drug addiction, contact the professionals at JourneyPure at the River today to begin your journey to recovery.
Chris Clancy is the in-house Content Manager for JourneyPure’s Digital Marketing team, where he gets to explore a wide variety of substance abuse- and mental health-related topics. He has more than 20 years’ experience as a journalist and researcher, with strong working knowledge of hospital systems, health insurance, content strategy, and public relations. He lives in Nashville with his wife and two kids.