Denial is a process involved in drug and alcohol addiction by which the addict pretends or convinces themselves that they do not have a problem when they do, or that their addiction is not causing destruction when it is. Sometimes, an individual may not even be aware that they are in denial, and may genuinely not believe that they have a problem with drugs or alcohol. Denial can also be a completely conscious act to cover up addictive behavior and the results of this behavior. Whatever the case may be, denial is a tell-tale sign that someone is definitely at a crisis point in their addiction. Denial can be so destructive as it often involves lying, refusal to even communicate with others about the problem, rationalizing, and minimizing addiction.
Denial is a defense mechanism, as admitting to the problem would force the individual to handle his drug or alcohol addiction, and they would have to make significant changes and admit wrongdoing. Admitting to addiction can be too overwhelming for the addict, who is on a very dark path to self destruction and who has probably caused destruction in his family and social life as well. Allowing truth into the picture would put the addict in a position of responsibility, where they would have to admit guilt and failure. The addict will assert that they can quit any time they choose, and that they have no desire to quit abusing drugs or alcohol as of yet. This denial may become more intense as the problem worsens, causing more and more disastrous consequences.
Individuals who have become addicted to drugs and alcohol will not allow anything to come between them and their substance of abuse. This is their way out of reality, and to quit abusing drugs or alcohol would mean that they would have to confront true reality. So an addict will build their own reality, and will thoroughly convince themselves of this reality to make their actions seem alright. An addict will have to prove to themselves every waking moment that their self-manufactured reality is the law, for fear of admitting any wrong doing and having to take responsibility for it. For family, friends, employers and co-workers of alcoholics and addicts, denial can be one of the most frustrating aspects to deal with as it is usually so obvious that the individual is living in a false reality and refuses to see truth.
In spite of the fact that the addict is completely responsible for their actions and their drug and alcohol use, they will sometimes blame their problems and/or drug and alcohol use on others as part of the denial process. Family members and loved ones who have been victims of this mechanism know too well how this can play out, and this can sometimes lead to destructive enabling of the addiction out of guilt. This too is a false reality, and part of the denial process which pulls innocent victims of the addiction into the made-up world of the addict. This wreaks havoc in the lives of those closest to the addict, who find themselves as unwilling participants in the addict's downfall.
There are ways to overcome drug addiction and denial, and those closest to the addict may need to intervene on behalf of the addict to get them the help they need. In order for the addict to accept treatment, they will have to come out of denial and accept the reality that there is a problem. While this won't be easy, as many walls have been built up to avoid this reality, it is possible and many addicts have seen the light and accepted treatment.
One of the most effective ways to overcome denial is to hold an actual drug or alcohol intervention. An intervention is an opportunity to confront an addict and tell them how drugs have been destroying their life and relationships with others, and how this can change for the better if they accept treatment. An intervention can be overseen by a trained professional interventionist who works in conjunction with drug rehabs, and who has had success in getting addicts successfully into treatment. Intervention participants will be given an opportunity to read letters to the addict, explaining the true reality of how their addiction has affected them and others. This cuts right through the denial process. A drug rehab program for the addict will be pre-arranged prior to the intervention itself, and the addict will be offered this treatment as part of the confrontation.
If the addict does not accept treatment, and decides to remain in denial about their addiction, there must be consequences. They cannot be allowed to continue their destructive behavior and live in denial, as this not only negatively affects themselves but everyone around them. The consequences of remaining in denial and not accepting treatment are often referred to as "bottom lines". Drug addiction intervention participants should be prepared to enforce these penalties out of love for the individual and out of self-preservation. If the addict refuses treatment, family members and loved ones will at least be able to free themselves of the denial process and put the responsibility back on the addict to overcome denial and get the help they need.
If the individual does accept the help and decides to go to drug rehab, this is a win for everybody. While it will not be an easy road, at least everyone is out of denial and confronting the truth about the individual's addiction. This is the first step on the road to recovery. Accept no manner of excuses as to why the addict can't leave immediately for treatment, and get them out the door right away. Once the individual has arrived at the treatment facility, treatment counselors and medical staff begin working right away to develop a personalized treatment curriculum that will consist of steps tailored to meet the individual's treatment needs.
Family members and loved ones should consult with the individual's counselor to keep informed about their progress, and know when it is a good time to reach out to them, but should be prepared for little or no communication during the beginning stages of treatment. This can be a very sensitive time and it is often recommended that the addict be allowed their space to become acclimated to their new environment and get settled in. The individual will very likely be going through withdrawal during the beginning stages of treatment and will be experiencing intense drug cravings during this time, which may provide the perfect opportunity to try and leave treatment and even complain about the program. This is a very common response, but an example of why family members and loved ones should leave it up to the professionals to handle, instead of being on the receiving end of this type of situation which will soon pass.
As mentioned earlier, the initial phase of drug treatment will be focused on assisting the individual through any withdrawal symptoms and get them through a thorough drug detox. Because detoxing from certain drugs, including alcohol and many prescription drugs, can be especially dangerous and even deadly, it is important that all drug detox be carried out under 24-hour medical supervision and care to reduce the risks involved. Instead of having to endure uncomfortable and painful withdrawal symptoms on their own, drug treatment professionals can help ease these symptoms and ensure the individuals makes it onto the next important steps of drug rehab.
When researching which drug rehab is best for the individual in need of treatment, it is important to understand that there are a variety of drug rehab programs available. Choosing the correct drug rehab which is right for an individual all depends on the individual's drug history and other contributing or underlying conditions or factors. There are even specific drug rehab programs which provide treatment for specific genders or age groups, and others that treat co-occurring disorders such as alcoholism and mental illness. The most important thing to keep in mind when choosing a drug rehab program is to choose one that provides a safe and supportive environment where professional drug treatment counselors will be able to provide the best treatment possible. Keep in mind, treating long-term addiction is not something that can be done overnight, so consider the most effective programs not necessarily the quickest programs.
For example, a long-term residential drug rehab program is the most effective course of treatment for individuals who have struggled with long-term addiction and dependence to drugs or alcohol. Being in a residential drug rehab offers an environment that allows for complete focus on recovery, where the individual will not be distracted by negative influences or situations which may trigger drug use. These types of drug rehab programs typically take anywhere from 3 months to a year, and professional drug treatment counselors work with the individual intensively during this time to work out the issues that landed them in rehab. Counselors will utilize education, behavioral therapy and individual and group counseling to address issues which may have caused their addictive behavior, or may cause such behavior in the future. By the end of drug rehab, the individuals will have developed mew coping skills and life tools which will keep them sober, lead a more productive life, and never been in denial again.
There are short-term drug rehab programs available, which typically last anywhere from a week to 30 days max. These types of programs are also in-patient, but significantly less intensive than a more long-term program and may not be appropriate for someone who is struggling with serious addiction issues. A short-term program also typically delivers individual and group counseling, and works to get the individual physically stable and off of drugs. Whether or not they are able to remain off of drugs, after such a short stint in treatment, is in question due to the nature of addiction and how this can affect an individual long-term. If this type of drug rehab option is chosen, it is often best to follow it up with regular group meetings, individual therapy, and even looking into a more long-term treatment program as needed.
And yet another drug rehab option is an outpatient drug rehab program, which is a type of treatment which can be conducted while the individual is also allowed to returns home or to a sober living facility each day or periodically throughout the week. The length of treatment can vary from person to person, but most individuals who take part in an outpatient program will typically spend anywhere from 30 to 90 days being treated. The downfall of being in such a drug rehab program is that an individual is returning to the lion's den each and every day, where they will be faced with drug triggers and influences which could cause drug use at any given time. And they will have easy access to drugs, so can relapse at any time. Therefore, an outpatient drug rehab program is not recommended for individuals who histories of long term addiction, especially those with a history of relapse.
To stop the insidious process of denial, addicts and those individuals intimately associated with them must confront the sad and uncomfortable truth that drug addiction is a factor in their lives and everyone involved must come to terms that drug rehab is the only way out of this denial. It can be difficult to overcome this denial, that often becomes the very fabric of the addict's everyday reality, but there are tools to do so. The first place to start is the truth, and the truth must be communicated and enforced for there to be any headway in saving the addict's life and future. Denial can be extinguished for good, once the individual accepts treatment and comes to understand addiction and themselves, and can begin living an honest life free of drugs and alcohol.