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Understanding Alcoholism and Drug Addiction - Denial

by James Heller 29. October 2009 10:53
People have a hard time understanding why loved ones suffering from alcohol dependence or drug addiction wait so long to enter alcohol and drug treatment.  A major reason for this is denial of reality.  As bad as things look to the outsider, alcoholics and drug addicts just don’t see it.

Denial should not be compared to a blindfold.  It’s more like blinders on a racehorse.  Alcoholics and drug addicts are well aware of the problems they face in life.  But they are incapable of accepting the consequences they suffer because alcohol and drugs are an important part of their lives.  As far as they are concerned, alcohol or drugs are a solution and far from a problem.

It comes from a belief that absent their calming substance things would be much worse, not better.  When a thought that problems stem from alcohol or drugs begin to enter their minds, it is quickly dismissed as preposterous.  There is a tunnel vision that temporarily pushes these thoughts out of sight along with all of the problems that need to be solved.

Even deeper in their psyche is an incapability to deal with emotions.  Denial protects alcoholics and addicts from feelings.  When they are confronted by a loved one, they will run to the comfort of alcohol or drugs to “clear their heads”.  The escape from emotions is a comfort.  In fact, it is usually the only comfort they have.  

This cycle is never-ending because alcohol and drugs are both the solution and problem for the alcoholic and addict.  But the solution illusion always wins in their minds.  Thus, they will not seek alcohol and drug treatment until problems are insurmountable or the family calls for an intervention.

Sadly, it takes a shock to the system to drag the alcoholic and drug addict into reality.  Once denial is shattered they may feel lost, so care must be taken to avoid provoking them back to denial.  The best bet is to be firm with the shock, but have loving arms to catch them when they fall.  Then immediately contact an alcohol and drug treatment center.

Drug-addiction.com, an informative website, posted an article a few years back that offers a glimpse at the problem of denial with the disease.  The portion excerpted below shows pertinent statistics, and the full article offers some additional insight.

-- Begin external content --

According to the results of the survey, of the 5.0 million people who needed but did not receive treatment in 2001, an estimated 377,000 reported that they felt they needed treatment for their drug problem. This includes an estimated 101,000 who reported that they made an effort but were unable to get treatment and 276,000 who reported making no effort to get treatment.

"We have a large and growing denial gap when it comes to drug abuse and dependency in this country," said John Walters, Director of National Drug Control Policy. "We have a responsibility--as family members, employers, physicians, educators, religious leaders, neighbors, colleagues, and friends--to reach out to help these people. We must find ways to lead them back to drug free lives. And the earlier we reach them, the greater will be our likelihood of success."

-- Source: http://www.drug-addiction.com/drugs_and_denial.htm --

Tarzana Treatment Centers in Los Angeles can help with intervention as part of our commitment to integrated behavioral healthcare in alcohol and drug treatment.  If you or a loved one needs help with alcoholism or drug addiction, please call us now at 888-777-8565 or contact us here.

Southern California Locations for Alcohol and Drug Treatment
Tarzana Treatment Centers has locations all over Southern California in Los Angeles County. Other than our central location in Tarzana, we have facilities in Lancaster in the Antelope Valley, Long Beach, and in Northridge and Reseda in the San Fernando Valley.