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How to Help a Drug Addict in Denial

The amount of substance abusers that realize their need for treatment is far lower than all of the people that need treatment. According to NIDA’s collection of data from surveys conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration in 2009, 2.6 million people – or 11.2 percent – of the 23.5 million that are substance abusers went to rehab for treatment. Denial is a major cause of the low number of admission for addiction. By discovering how to help a drug addict in denial, you can be the catalyst to breaking through to someone you care for by getting them professional help for their mental disease.

3 Minute Read | Published Sep 15 2023 | Updated Feb 21 2024 Expert Verified
Emma Collins
Written by
Wayne P. Brown
Reviewed by
Emma Collins
Written by
Wayne P. Brown
Reviewed by

Addiction Recovery – How to Help a Drug Addict in Denial

Signs of an Addict in Denial

Denial in addiction is common due to the way addiction changes behavior, thinking, and even brain structure. The signs of an addict in denial become apparent when even though they know there are negative side effects of their substance abuse, it does not stop them from continuing their abuse. Common signs include uncalled for anger, constant excuses and rationalizing of their problems, lying, blaming others, avoiding the problem, and ignoring the help offered.

Starting the Conversation

What to say to a drug addict who needs help can be made difficult by their substance abuse. If you were to approach the addict while they are under the influence of drugs or alcohol, your efforts will likely go by the wayside. How to help a drug addict in denial initially is about opening up communication about the problem, but choosing the right time is important. Approach them about the issue when they are sober and more like themselves.

How to help a drug addict in denial initially can be about timing your concerns with the negative consequences of their addiction, such as after a night of substance abuse when their remorse about the substance abuse is still present before the cravings start.

What to say to a drug addict who needs help can be difficult by yourself; therefore, it may be useful to elicit the help of other people close to the addict to present a more united front and to get aid from someone with experiences, such as an AA member or an intervention specialist.

Ways to Approach Denial

How to help a drug addict in denial can be about choosing the right approach. During the addiction, the addict is not themselves. As such, approaching the issue in the right way can greatly help.

Make use of “I” phrases. Phrases such as “I noticed” or “I was concerned when” are helpful. Specifics can also help to pin-point the exact problems. Talk about a specific situation or incident where the addict broke promises or caused hurt.

Addicts often neglect other things of importance in their life as a result of their substance abuse. Talking to them about things such as their family, career, hobbies, or anything that they used to care about but are neglecting now can help to put their addiction into perspective.

Expect denial as it is one of the symptoms of addiction. If you expect it, it will be easier to continue to show your support for their future recovery. The things that you make them aware of may not cause them to seek help immediately, but it can ultimately help them come to the realization that they need help. As such, stay in contact with the person and continue to show your support for their recovery.

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, get help right away. Make a phone call that will connect you to a professional drug treatment center. The call you make may save your life or the life of someone you love. Call us today at (800) 429-7690.

Resources

bullet National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) (2020)
"DrugFacts: Understanding Drug Use and Addiction"
Retrieved on January 09, 2018
bullet Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) (2020)
"Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator"
Retrieved on January 09, 2018
bullet National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) (2020)
"Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide (Third Edition)"
Retrieved on January 09, 2018
bullet Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) (2019)
"Treatment Improvement Protocol (TIP) 35: Enhancing Motivation for Change in Substance Abuse Treatment"
Retrieved on January 09, 2018
bullet National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) (2020)
"Family-Based Approaches for the Treatment of Drug Addiction"
Retrieved on January 09, 2018
bullet American Addiction Centers (2021)
"How to Help an Addict in Denial"
Retrieved on January 09, 2018
bullet National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) (n.d.)
"Navigating a Mental Health Crisis: A NAMI Resource Guide for Those Experiencing a Mental Health Emergency"
Retrieved on January 09, 2018
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