Addiction: What Is Denial?

If you cover for your loved one by lying to their boss, for example, they won’t experience the negative consequences of their drinking and will remain in denial. For many who struggle with alcohol use disorder, it’s much easier to pretend that the problem doesn’t exist. That way, there’s no need to make major lifestyle changes or face difficult emotions. They don’t have to open themselves to judgment or navigate the unknown challenges of treatment. You’re likely to start by seeing your primary health care provider. If your provider suspects that you have a problem with alcohol, you may be referred to a mental health provider.

  • The problem is that alcoholism—or what doctors today refer to as “alcohol use disorder”—has taken hold.
  • When a loved one is engaged in alcohol abuse, watching them spiral out of control can cause inner conflict for friends and family members.
  • She was found dead in 2011 at age 27, lying on her bed with an empty vodka bottle on the floor beside her.
  • For these individuals, dishonesty can be intentional or unintentional.
  • 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.

These support groups allow you to interact with people in similar situations. You can also learn strategies to alleviate stress and manage strains on your mental health. Living with someone in active addiction affects every aspect of life—from work to finances, physical well-being to relationships with family and friends. Ignoring or denying the difficult and painful consequences of alcohol addiction will only make things worse. In fact, by the time families reach out for help with a loved one’s alcoholism, the disease may have progressed to a crisis level involving an accident, lost job, arrest or medical emergency.

Coping with Denial in People with Alcoholism

A strong relationship exists between alcohol use and psychological traumas. Therefore, people who start drinking due to stress or trauma might not be ready to leave drinking until they are mentally prepared and alcoholism and denial free from those stressors. Joy Sutton, host of American Addiction Centers’ (AAC) Sober Thursdays, had the opportunity to sit down with four current employees of the nationwide leader in addiction treatment.

  • Living with an alcoholic in denial can be draining and difficult.
  • People might convince themselves or others that their drinking falls within the “normal” range.
  • AUD offspring in Group 1 on average reported fewer drinks required for effects across the timeframes (SRE-T), were less involved with other drugs and had lower scores on sensation seeking.
  • Addiction can be cured  or managed when a person is willing to leave it or at least aware of its adversity.

People with alcohol use disorder sometimes have reduced capacity for organizing and analyzing available evidence to draw a conclusion. This may cause rigid thinking or concreteness of thought, making it hard to change their minds on a topic like whether they have a serious drinking problem. They might think it’s too expensive and time-consuming, or that it won’t work for them.

Why denial is common for people with AUD

As the person’s drinking continues to worsen over time, the consequences related to alcoholism increase. Understanding denial is a first step toward helping your loved one with alcohol use disorder. When you realize denial is a coping mechanism, you may feel less frustrated with the behaviors you’ve seen.

People with an alcohol addiction may lie to mask shame or to avoid ridicule from their peers. In some cases, stigma causes people with alcoholism to avoid rehab. A 2007 study by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse showed that 37 percent of college students avoided seeking substance abuse treatment for fear of stigma. A professional intervention can be especially beneficial if your loved one is in denial about the extent of their substance use problem. In active addiction, denial can be a powerful dynamic for the person with alcoholism as well as loved ones, building up subtly over time as everyone goes into survival mode in order to make it through the next crisis.

Family and Children’s Programs

We have strict sourcing guidelines and only link to reputable media sites, academic research institutions and, whenever possible, medically peer reviewed studies. Enabling also creates an environment that fosters co-dependency and negatively impacts appropriate support systems. Denial is not the same as anosognosia, a condition where someone refuses to believe they have a medical condition despite ample evidence.

When you address your loved one’s drinking, use compassion and empathy. Avoid criticizing and shaming, and focus on highlighting your love and concern. Acknowledge the positives and listen to their response, even if you don’t agree. It cuts off the possibility of positive change, leading to a lifetime of issues with health, finances, and relationships. Too much alcohol affects your speech, muscle coordination and vital centers of your brain.

It can be difficult to know what to do when you’re living with an alcoholic in denial. Here, we provide tips on some of the practical steps you can take, and provide information on the specialist alcohol addiction rehab we can offer at Life Works in Surrey. No one wants to watch a loved one experience AUD or any other health condition. You can offer support to someone with AUD who is in denial and take steps to ensure you’re not enabling their drinking, but you can’t make them get help. People with AUD are likely to employ denial because admitting that alcohol has become a serious problem can be incredibly difficult.

alcoholism and denial

Remember, enabling behaviors often stem from a place of care but can hinder progress toward recovery. It’s essential for loved ones to learn healthier ways to support themselves without perpetuating denial. It’s crucial to understand that having a parent with an alcohol use disorder doesn’t make it the individual’s fault. Research shows that there is indeed a genetic predisposition involved in developing alcohol addiction, which means factors beyond personal control come into play. By dismissing the issue, they avoid acknowledging that their drinking has become problematic and refuse to engage in meaningful conversations about seeking help or making changes.

Alcoholism and denial

You might not recognize how much you drink or how many problems in your life are related to alcohol use. Listen to relatives, friends or co-workers when they ask you to examine your drinking habits or to seek help. Consider talking with someone who has had a problem with drinking but has stopped. Another interesting finding related to the overall differences across generations regarding the specific criteria items endorsed by AUD probands and AUD offspring in the first data columns of Tables 1 and ​and3.3. One striking finding involved the 4% of AUD probands overall who admitted to tolerance in the prior five years compared to 57% who endorsed tolerance in AUD offspring.

  • You might also find it helpful to talk with a counselor or therapist who specializes in alcohol use disorder.
  • AAC provides care in a supportive and compassionate environment under licensed medical professionals.
  • These concepts are complex and likely to develop in response to widely held societal beliefs as well as mechanisms reflecting an individual’s traits regarding how they handle problems and their specific beliefs and behaviors.
  • Stigma is one reason people struggle to admit to having a drinking problem.

This is a way to deny both to you and themselves that they have a problem with alcohol. Lying and being dishonest are other ways that the affected person may attempt to conceal and deny the extent of the problem. To truly recover, this person needs to realise that only they have control over their actions.