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Drug & Alcohol Dependency: Overcoming Denial

Recognizing that you may have a problem is hard. Finally admitting it to yourself or your loved ones is even harder. That’s what makes the denial stage of the grieving process so difficult to overcome.

In part one of our five-part blog series, you’ll learn more about what denial is, how to know if you may be in denial and a simple strategy for working through it at your own pace.

It is difficult to let go of the imagined reality that a drug or alcohol addiction can produce. Reality hurts, and the easiest way to avoid a problem is to deny its existence.

What is Denial, Anyway?

Put simply, denial is our way of protecting ourselves from experiencing pain or dealing with an unpleasant situation. While denial is a completely normal defense mechanism, it prevents us from taking that critical first step toward recovery from drug or alcohol addiction. After all, denying that a problem exists in the first place helps us feel better immediately. Unfortunately, this is only a short-term solution to a long-term challenge.

Am I in Denial Right Now?

Part of what makes denial so challenging to overcome is that we aren’t always able to tell when we are experiencing it. Remember, the reason our brains are hard-wired for denial is to shield us from facing a reality we don’t like.

So, how can you tell if you’re in the denial stage? It’s actually pretty simple, if you’re willing to be honest with yourself.  You can start by asking yourself this question:

“Have I ever made excuses for something I regretted saying or doing while under the influence of drugs or alcohol?”

Pause and think about that for a few seconds. If the answer is yes, there is a good chance you are struggling with denial. So, what now? First of all, you need to understand that admitting you have a problem is not a sign of weakness. In fact, it’s the exact opposite. It takes real strength and courage to own your addiction.

Moving Beyond the Denial Stage

Everyone handles denial differently. It might take weeks. Months. Even years. There is no standard length of time, or formula, for predicting when you will be ready to move beyond the denial stage. But, the good news is you don’t have to sit around just waiting for it to happen.

Ask yourself another question:

“Have my friends, co-workers or loved ones ever expressed concern for my drug or alcohol use?”

If so, how did you respond? Many people suffering from addiction react negatively to this type of feedback – for good reason. Uninvited comments feel judgmental. Not only that, they shatter the alternate reality you’ve worked so hard to convince yourself is true. As a result, you may find yourself pushing away the very people who care about you the most.

While you may not be ready to accept your addiction right now, think back to any comments from friends or loved ones regarding your drug or alcohol use that initially felt hurtful. Could these be red flags that you’re in denial? You don’t have to decide today, but keep these experiences in the back of your mind. Over time, you may come to see them for the warning signs they really are.

We Are Here to Help

It’s important to remember that everyone deals with denial differently. Working through it on your own terms not only makes the process easier, it can also help you find closure. If you would like more advice for dealing with denial or any of the other stages of grieving, our addiction treatment center is a great place to start.

Our holistic approach to treating drug and alcohol dependency helps clients identify and address problematic behavioral patterns, emotional issues, interpersonal difficulties, as well as any traumatic life events that could be contributing to their addictions.

When you’re ready to start, The Raleigh House is ready to help. Call us today.

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