What a Loved One Might Say:
- I can stop anytime I want to.
- I don’t really have a problem. I know people who have much bigger issues.
- These substances help me. They don’t hurt me.
- Using drugs and alcohol is my right, and I don’t have to stop using unless I want to do so.
Someone with an addiction often denies the disease. There are many reasons someone refuses to see she needs help, but at the end of the day going without treatment prolongs the misery for everyone involved.
Research points to specific factors that keep a person from recognizing the many symptoms of her disease. Drugs and alcohol alter a person’s ability to clearly see the consequences of their actions and make good decisions. Addictive substances affect the brain’s frontal lobe, which controls behavior and memory; a person becomes impulsive, lacks the ability to see long-term consequences to actions and has trouble focusing on difficult tasks. When someone regularly takes substances, she is unable to fully understand what she’s doing to herself and others.
People addicted to drugs and alcohol also live in denial. They may have subconscious feelings of shame or stigma they want to ignore or they don’t want to admit making serious mistakes. The combination of denial and addiction is challenging to fight. It is still possible to help a loved one see the truth; by explaining feelings in a loving, nonjudgmental way or getting help from a medical professional or addiction specialist. The key is finding a way to get a person to see past personal biases and find self-awareness. Facilities that offer Motivational Interviewing, such as The Canyon, give new patients an opportunity to talk about substance use in a non-biased way and examine what drugs and alcohol mean to them. This process motivates many patients to make changes and set goals that lead to long-term sobriety.
People who suffer with addictions do and say harmful things.They also say things based on a desire to avoid making any changes.It’s important to remember denials are common in people who have addictions. A loved one may say one or more of the following statements:
- “I can stop anytime I want.”
- “I don’t really have a problem. I know people who have much bigger issues.”
- “These substances help me. They don’t hurt me.”
- “Using drugs and alcohol is my right, and I don’t have to stop using unless I want to do so.”
Deciding on the best way to help a loved one means taking an honest look at the quality of her life and the quality of the lives of everyone around her. If it’s clear addiction is harming everyone, due to outbursts of anger or lost employment or other problems, it’s time to get help.
A Family’s Influence
Breaking through denial might be hard, but families have an edge. Family members know the person well, understand who the person is now and know person’s real character. By looking carefully, family members see the person’s daily habits and learn more about how much time and energy the person uses toward getting drugs or alcohol. All of these observations give family members insight into what’s needed. The information also helps family and friends hold an intervention, if necessary.
In an intervention, the family outlines the addiction’s impact in clear terms, and sometimes provides the addicted person with a list of consequences that might take place if the person doesn’t agree to accept addiction care.
Research shows consequences are most effective when they are contingent on continuing addiction care. In other words, telling someone child visitation might be suspended unless the person gets better isn’t as effective as telling the person the visits will end if the person leaves treatment. An interventionist can help the family design these conversations for maximum impact.
The Canyon’s Family Program
It’s important to build on a wave of momentum. As soon as a person agrees to treatment that person is motivated to get started. Since motivation is fluid and the desire to make changes may pass when serious substance cravings kick in, it’s important to have a treatment plan in place.Families need to arrange for care before they hold an intervention or have a serious talk with a loved one. With a defined plan in place, there’s no impediment to quick care.
At The Canyon, we work with all families, people who are planning to hold interventions and those who are looking for admission. Our admissions coordinators can start the enrollment process and work on payment options, so all the paperwork will be complete when it’s time to start working on recovery. Please contact our toll-free line today for more information.
 Verdejo-García, Antonio & Pérez-García, Miguel (2008). Substance abusers’ self-awareness of the neurobehavioral consequences of addiction. Psychiatry Research. Retrieved Mar. 1, 2017 from http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0165178106002174.
 Pickard, Hanna. (2016). Denial in Addiction. Mind & Language. Retrieved Mar. 1, 2017 from http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/mila.12106/full.
 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2016). Treatments for Substance Use Disorders. Retrieved Mar. 1, 2017 from https://www.samhsa.gov/treatment/substance-use-disorders.
 Miller, Norman S. &Flaherty, Joseph A. (2000). Effectiveness of coerced addiction treatment (alternative consequences). Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment. Retrieved Mar. 1, 2017 from http://www.journalofsubstanceabusetreatment.com/article/S0740-5472(99)00073-2/abstract.
View our Photo Gallery of The Canyon's Accommodations and Grounds (click)