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How does addiction denial impact treatment?

In many cases, especially when a partner or parent wants their loved one to receive treatment, the individual themselves may be in denial that the problem exists, and therefore resistant to receiving treatment.

First, we have to always realize that people don’t see the world as it is; they see the world as they are. Just because something is a problem, like a glaring problem in the lives of others, it may not be one to that individual, and therefore there’s a disconnect that exists there. So the first step is to be able to have the individual identify and see that there is a problem.

Awareness of The Problem

One assignment that we use in treatment in Buckeye Recovery Network is what we call the 10 Consequences of Addiction Assignment. It helps an individual look at different areas in their life such as their relationships, their health, their finances, their overall mental health, and other factors, and see what kind of consequences their drinking or substances their using caused. If they are able to look at the consequences objectively and see that their substance use impaired and impacted all those different areas it’s one version of being able to break through that level of denial.

Sometimes people aren’t ready to let go. When someone resists something they’re not willing to let go. When they let go freedom happens but they’re not letting go, so the question becomes why? What is it that they’re continuing to receive from this drug and alcohol that other people might not be getting but they’re getting? And what is it going to take for them to be able to let go a little bit at a time?

When people are actively using or where there is a lot of resistance they don’t really recognize the chaos that they are bringing into their world, into family members’ world, into their lives. Bringing awareness to how substance use is impacting their mental well-being, their social life, their work or school allows them to take in that information.

Meet Them Where They Are

No one can force someone else to become ready, or to see the problems in their life. We have to meet them where they are and hopefully from there raise up together. The best thing a parent or partner can do in those moments is to take care of themselves first and be a really healthy role model for that person. It may allow their loved one to soak it all in and see and help them to recognize how unhealthy their behaviors are too.

How do you gently nudge someone into recognizing that they have an addiction problem, which I recognize, being one myself and in recovery, but gently open their eyes to take action? So pretty much what Katalin is saying here (I just want to open up the question) because of her personal experience in recovery, she’s able to observe someone else in their life and see that they got signs, they got symptoms, they potentially could have a problem with addiction, but the other individual doesn’t know yet, so what can that person do to nudge them or kind of gently expose them to the recovery world? You got anything for that?

Gentle Nudging

Communication is an important part of helping loved ones recognize and accept that they need help. We can say the same thing in two different ways and it will not land at all if we don’t say it correctly. There is a form of therapy called the Gottman therapy which focuses a lot on communication and relationships. According to Gottman therapy, the first three seconds of how a conversation starts generally indicates how a conversation will go. So if we start the conversation with a negative tone and really loud and aggressive body language the person we’re speaking to is going to immediately shut down, they’re going to get defensive and they’re not going to be able to hear us. That’s where gently nudging someone really comes into play.

Have a very soft startup when you speak to people and also speak from “I statements” like, “I notice,” “I feel,” “I have seen,” in whatever follows because if we start with “you’re doing this and you’re messing up your life and you’re ruining your life,” people get defensive and their brain turns off and they can no longer hear you.

Appropriate Timing

An appropriate communication in terms of speaking to someone at the right timing is also important. If someone has not slept for three days because they’ve been using drugs, it’s generally not the time where they would be the most receptive towards any feedback about their life. Planning the time for conversations can help judge them and help them recognize some of their problems.

Attraction Rather Than Promotion

In the 12-step programs, they have a statement that works really well. It just says “attraction rather than promotion.” When a person is in recovery they become so attractive, meaning that the way they live their life without the use of alcohol, the way they engage, the way they interact, the way they behave, the way they think, the way they show up, the way they laugh, the way they smile, when all of those behaviors are seen by others it always piques the interest of the people that’s closest around them. And then they ask that million dollar question: “What are you doing to get to do that? How did you get to this place? How did you go from what you were to where you are?” When they ask the question then that’s the perfect opening to start talking about the recovery process. Continued work on self creates an attractiveness, like an attraction to others to inquire about what’s your secret sauce. That becomes attractive enough to whoever that is around to be gently nudged towards the recovery process.

Ready to Start your Recovery?

Reach out to us at Buckeye Recovery Network to see how we can help you or your loved one receive the treatment you deserve.

Today is going to be the best day of your life.

Kelsey Gearhart

Director of Business Development

Kelsey carries multiple years of experience working in the substance abuse and mental health treatment field. Her passion for this field comes from her personally knowing recovery from addiction.

Prior to Buckeye she held titles of Recovery Coach, Operations Director, and Admissions Director. Kelsey was brought on at Buckeye Recovery as the Director of Business Development. She has a passion for ensuring every individual gets the help that they need, and does so by developing relationships with other providers.

Kelsey also oversees our women’s sober living environments – The Chadwick House for Women. She is committed to creating a safe, nurturing, and conducive environment for all women that walk through the doors of Chadwick.