How to Help an Addict in Denial

Over 40% of all Americans have a friend or close family member that’s been addicted to drugs or alcohol at some point. For many, finding help for their loved ones is a losing battle.

It’s not that the person in question doesn’t want help, it’s that they’re in denial. A person in denial may have no legal issues or debt to worry about but still have an addiction problem that needs to be addressed. 

Knowing how to help an addict in denial doesn’t come easy. If you approach it the wrong way, your loved one is likely to pull away from you. Check out this guide to learn what to do. 


Talk About How You Feel

One of the biggest tips for healthy communication is to talk about how you feel. Stating opinions isn’t going to do you much good when reaching out to someone in denial. 

You can argue with an opinion. It’s much more difficult to come up with a counterargument for emotions. 

Be as Specific as Possible

Those who are in denial don’t notice when they’re showing signs of alcoholism. If they do notice, they tell themselves that it’s not a problem because it’s not affecting their finances or hurting another person. 

In truth, they’re probably hurting someone they love without realizing it. During your conversation, you’ll need to be ready with some examples of specific instances.  

The idea isn’t to list off a bunch of complaints. All you’re doing is painting a picture that they can see. 

Don’t Belittle Them 

Your loved one may have done a lot of bad things, but it’s important to remember that they’re still a person. Just because they have an addiction doesn’t mean that they don’t have feelings. 

You should never belittle them. Doing so will make things worse instead of curing them of their problem. 

Discuss Their Fears 

Admitting that you have a problem can be scary. That fear is the main reason for denying an addiction. 

Address those fears with your loved ones and allow them to talk through them with you. From there, help them come up with a treatment game plan. 

Talk to them about outpatient vs inpatient rehab. Research facilities with them and don’t forget to ask them what they want. 

At the end of the day, it’s their treatment journey. Help them along their path, but don’t dictate them. 

Talk to Them While They’re Sober

It’s not a good idea to approach your loved one while they’re under the influence. 

You have no idea how they’re going to react to your words. What you say may not even stick with them. 

How to Help an Addict in Denial Get Treatment 

If you don’t know how to help an addict in denial pursue the treatment that they need, approaching them can feel a bit overwhelming. 

As you can see, the general rule of thumb is to talk to them like they’re a person. Discuss their fears, don’t belittle them, and above all else, ask them what their recovery goals are. 

For more advice on substance abuse treatments, visit the Life section of our blog. 

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