How Families in Denial Think and Behave Regarding Substance Abuse
Nov 16, 2017
Families of addicts are in a difficult situation. They love someone who is lost due to a substance dependence. For many people, a natural way to protect themselves from pain is to avoid the truth. In these cases, it is imperative for everyone (or at least as many members as possible) into a competent therapy program. Convincing people that they need counseling is often challenging as loved ones who practice denial think and behave in specific ways that can hinder them from getting professional help. Here is some information about typical beliefs and actions of those who refuse to confront the drug abuse.
- Some people ignore evidence of addiction in their loved one's life. They choose not to "see" changes in the person's personality and behaviors. They don't look for physical evidence such as drug paraphernalia and empty bottles. When they stumble upon them, choose to believe the articles belong to someone else or are "old" and not representative of the person's current state.
- A family member will often rationalize when they are uncomfortable accepting that the person related to them is an actual addict. They choose to believe the situation is not overly serious and may say such things as "he drinks occasionally but doesn't get really drunk" or "she only smokes when she needs to relax." Minimizing an addiction fails to acknowledge the desperate need for action.
- Family members who are in denial avoid conversations about the addiction. They become adept at shutting down any person who wants to discuss the issue. They often go out of their way to avoid the addict and those around him who might aspire to confront the addiction.
- Denial often manifests itself in making excuses for the addict's behavior. They might claim the person is "sick", "confused" or "acting out" rather than drug addicted. They may attribute substance abuse to a phase or temporary coping measure that will resolve in time without specific action becoming necessary.
People often practice denial when they are afraid of confronting the fears, sadness and potential loss of having someone they love addicted to a substance. While this psychological buffer might initially provide comfort to the family, it is detrimental in getting the addict into a recovery program. In the long run, the addict's family also suffer because the denial keeps them from getting the professional counseling they need. Please contact us for information about family therapy.
Category: Family Therapy