Sober living

Helping a High-Functioning Alcoholic in Denial

why are alcoholics in denial

In many cases, the blaming and lying will not stop until the alcoholic admits to having a drinking problem. To help these individuals consider rehab, many families hold interventions. These meetings allow family members to persuade a loved one to seek help for addiction. For these individuals, dishonesty can be intentional or unintentional.

  1. The benefits of drug use may be clear and immediate, while the costs are typically delayed and uncertain.
  2. Denial is a form of motivated belief or self-deception that detaches an individual from reality (Bortolotti, 2010).
  3. We’ve tried, tested, and written unbiased reviews of the best online therapy programs including Talkspace, BetterHelp, and ReGain.

They tend to prefer drugs because, at the moment of choice, they value drugs more than they value a possible but uncertain future reward (e.g., health, relationships, or opportunities). Addiction can also be a source of terrible shame, self-hatred, and low self-worth. For an addict, it can be terrifying to acknowledge the harm one has done by one’s addiction to oneself and potentially to others one cares for.

Why denial is common for people with AUD

Overcoming denial often depends on the nature of the problem. People often come to terms with the reality of a situation on their own given time and support. When dealing with something shocking or distressing, being in denial can give you a little time and space to gradually, often unconsciously, come to grips with the change. Finally, a person moves from denial to accepting their addiction when they recognize the issue and are mobilized to change it. That is, the future consequences are not weighed in comparison with the present benefits. The benefits of drug use may be clear and immediate, while the costs are typically delayed and uncertain.

why are alcoholics in denial

It’s a good idea to ask questions, let the person with AUD lead the conversation, and avoid judgment and accusations. This can help the person with AUD feel more at ease and might help them accept that they need treatment for their alcohol use. People with AUD are likely to employ denial because admitting that alcohol has become a serious problem can be incredibly difficult. Many people with AUD drink more than they intend to but want to believe they are still in control of their drinking. Not everyone with AUD demonstrates denial, but it’s a common occurrence that can prevent people from seeking treatment.

Treatment Is Critical to Recovery

Defense mechanisms are strategies that people use to cope with distressing feelings. In the case of denial, it can involve not acknowledging reality or denying the consequences of that reality. In my own personal experience, after hitting an emotional bottom there was 90% of my rational self that recognized I was alcoholic and 10% that did not. Only 10% was my denial, yet it had more influence over my thinking than the 90%. Today, when those denial thoughts crop up, I use them as reminders that even though I have always been high functioning, I really am an alcoholic.

If they’re not receptive, keep trying — and set boundaries to protect your own well-being. In addition to supporting your own mental health, this serves as a role model to your loved one. Sometimes, a person’s personality can influence their tendency for denial. Certain traits, such as independence and perfectionism, can add to a person’s hesitancy or reticence to seek help, says Grawert.

Coping with Denial in People with Alcoholism

People may deny their alcoholism for different reasons—it’s not always about hiding it. Here are the different types of alcoholic denial and why people with alcohol addiction may deny their drinking problem. Denial is a common way for people to deal with anxiety-provoking situations. Developing coping skills will allow you to face your fears in healthy and productive ways. If denial is causing problems or preventing you from dealing with a physical or mental health condition, consider talking to a professional or joining a support group. Denial is a type of defense mechanism that involves ignoring the reality of a situation to avoid anxiety.

In rehab, people undergo alcohol detox, learn about the dangers of alcoholism and find new ways to avoid drinking. When a person starts abusing alcohol, they may feel they have a good reason. Stress, obligations, trauma, abuse, or any other number of negative circumstances can atorvastatin oral route description and brand names seem like an acceptable reason to pick up a bottle or have a drink. For those dependent on a substance, talking to a healthcare provider is the best way to develop a plan for detoxing safely. Denial can persist for short or long periods and looks different for everyone.

Ready to make a change?

Secondary denial often prevents loved ones from addressing this issue with HFAs and therefore preventing them from getting treatment. The disease affects neurochemistry, and alcoholics typically refuse to believe they have an alcohol use disorder. In some instances, their denial causes them to fail to recognize how their substance abuse is affecting their lives. Protecting, rescuing, and secondary denial are all ways that people close to alcoholics enable their addictive behaviors. When a loved one is engaged in alcohol abuse, watching them spiral out of control can cause inner conflict for friends and family members. Many may wonder how alcoholics who have lost their job, their housing and/or family could not realize that they are alcoholic.

People may blame loved ones or employers for causing stress that led to their drinking problems. Or they may point the finger at a friend or co-worker for buying them a beer in the past. These individuals may become offended alcohol poisoning symptoms and treatment or enraged if someone suggests they may have a drinking problem. Denial is a defense mechanism for people suffering from addiction, and it is one factor that can keep them from seeking life-saving treatment.

On some level, you know there is a problem that needs to be addressed, but you feel that nothing you do or say will make a difference. When other people try to offer advice or help, you might brush off their concern by pretending to agree or telling them cocaine withdrawal to mind their own business. Heritability rates can be 50% or more in family members with alcohol or opioid use. Sarah Allen Benton, M.S., LMHC., LPC, is a licensed mental health counselor and author of Understanding the High-Functioning Alcoholic.

They may lie to simultaneously maintain their drinking habits and their relationships with loved ones. They may also engage in evasion, deception and manipulation to distort the truth about their alcoholism. Alcohol addiction treatment centers offer a number of treatment options, and guide an individual through the recovery process. From the early stages of detoxification, or detox, to inpatient treatment, through to aftercare, addiction medicine continues to develop and support individuals in recovery. A person that exhibits a number of these symptoms is likely to be struggling with an alcohol use disorder and would benefit from a treatment program. It is important to recognize that just because you have realized that your loved one may be in need of an alcohol addiction treatment program, that does not mean they will agree.

Rational beliefs are formed on the basis of solid evidence and are open for appropriate revision when new evidence makes them less likely to be true. It is now well-established that we are prone to various cognitive biases that have powerful influences on how we make decisions. For example, the confirmation bias causes people to embrace information that confirms their pre-existing narratives. People hold certain beliefs (often unconsciously) in part because they attach value to them. “For starters, the media, our workplaces, and many social circles normalize drinking to excess,” says Ruby Mehta, a clinical social worker and director of clinical operations at Tempest. What might look like denial may actually be a lot more complicated and multilayered for people with high-functioning AUD.

Signs of Denial

As a result, they lie about their drinking or blame others for their problems. However, these behaviors can fracture their relationships, threaten their employment and exacerbate their addiction. Many people with the disorder are reluctant to seek rehab, partly because alcohol is a central part of their life. And they know that rehab could compromise their relationship with alcohol.

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