A common problem that many addicts face in recovery is the fact that they must first see an issue with their behavior in order to begin accepting that change is probably necessary in their lives. Once the willingness is reached, they are still dealing with the disease as such and it often requires a lot of treatment and outside help to finally reach a stable recovery, but first they must see for themselves that they have a problem. And this is why denial plays such a big role in finding help. It basically means that as long as someone does not see, understand or want to see that they are addicted to the drugs or alcohol, they won’t see a need for change.
If consequences appear, the denial factor lets the addict and alcoholic brush them under the carpet, minimize or rationalize them, see them as a temporary bad luck or even as other people’s faults. It’s often not easy to make someone in active addiction understand that their problems are of higher severity than they assume, or that it wasn’t the cop’s fault that they got stopped for driving drunk. There is one even bigger factor that makes communication with loved ones problematic and often impossible: The question about what the problem actually is and how it can be solved.
When an addict feels like his or her life has turned upside down, their heads begin spinning. Because they are so consumed with negative thoughts after being confronted with anything that triggers shame or guilt, their solution is to abuse drugs or alcohol- and 9 times out of 10, it works for them. At least it works for quite a while until tolerance starts kicking in-in which case, everything changes. This is how we are raised, too. If you have a fever, the fever is the problem, and drugs are the solution. Who doesn’t run to the pharmacy to get relief for a running nose during cold season? That’s how it works for an addict as well. When their lives aren’t going so well-they find relief in using substances.
Then there comes a time when others enter the picture, telling them all of a sudden, that these things (that are their current solutions) are now titled their “problem(s)”. It’s no wonder so many addicts have big trouble understanding our efforts to help them. All they can see is that you try to take away the things that help them deal with their life. The barrier of communication gets higher and higher, the addicts see their problems rising, and their solutions criticized.
Try to imagine how the addict feels. It is no surprise that he denies all help.
Talk less about problems and more about solutions. If an addict or alcoholic understands that there is an alternative solution to their problems, they might be more open to talk. And if you, as an addict, try to understand where are the people that want to help you are coming from, a better communication with loved ones may be possible. Small steps can lead to big changes. Trying to keep the focus on solutions can get you a long way. Sometimes, it is easier to change the solution than to fight the problem itself. Learning coping skills in treatment is always a better and healthier solution than numbing your world with drugs. Working on the problems that have long created that big desire to escape is a better long-term solution than multiplying the problems of life through drug use and abuse. Drugs and alcohol are not a good solutions, they don’t work long term and create even more problems in the long run. The skills are what create a long-term relief, joy and happiness. It’s like switching from pain pills to physical therapy after an intensive surgery. Only the later will really help you, even though both seem to be good solutions for the current pain one is experiencing.