Denial is one of the Key Factors that Prevents and Alcoholic from Seeking Alcoholism Treatment
One of the greatest factors that can prevent an alcoholic from getting alcoholism treatment is denial. In fact, denial is considered to be one of the clearest signs of alcoholism. Denial is a defense mechanism that has enabled the alcoholic to justify their own behavior. One major symptom of the disease of alcoholism is that it prevents the alcoholic from seeing the truth of their situation. In most circumstances, alcoholics are unable to recognize they have developed a dependency on alcohol.
Alcoholics also have learned how to rationalize their drinking problem. In other words, they can come up with a number of excuses for why their lives have become unmanageable and fail to recognize that their drinking habits are causing negative consequences. Alcoholics will also tend to blame others for their circumstances. For example, they may blame their spouse or children as the cause of why they continue to drink.
The greatest impediment, however, is the mere fact that alcoholics avoid treatment because they have been able to avoid the consequences associated with their destructive drinking patterns. In these situations, they have often been enabled to continue to drink by family, friends, and those that have consistent contact with them. Enablers protect the alcoholic from the consequences of their drinking. They may take on added responsibilities, lie to friends and family, or simply pretend there isn’t a problem at all.
Similar to the alcoholic, enablers will often come up with excuses for their role in the alcoholic’s life. They often fail to recognize the negative consequences that occur as a result of their loved one’s drinking habits. More importantly, they fail to recognize the gravity of the alcoholism disease. Enablers tend to want to avoid coming to terms with the fact that alcoholism is destroying their lives.
The first step towards alcohol recovery is acknowledging there is a problem. Seeking professional treatment is often necessary to help the alcoholic come to terms with their seriousness of their disease. If you or a loved one is suffering from the disease of alcoholism, it’s important to get medical attention and help from an addiction specialist.
How To Help An Alcoholic: Dealing With Denial
Although many alcoholics can recognize that they may have a drinking problem, few of them have the ability to identify that they are truly alcoholic. Regardless of how much their drinking is causing havoc in their lives, they still believe their drinking is not the problem. This phenomenon is known as denial.
For most alcoholics, denial is the number one obstacle in getting help. Getting honest with one self proves to be a difficult task as no one wants to believe they have problem. More importantly, no one wants to see themselves as alcoholic due to the many connotations and stereotypes that are associated with alcoholism.
Unfortunately, the alcoholic stereotype often refers to the late-stage alcoholic. Late stage alcoholics are perceived as those who have completely bottomed out. They are individuals that have lost everything as a result of their drinking. Society sees them as drifters, bums, the mentally deranged and physically debilitated. For many, alcoholism is incorrectly perceived as a moral issue.
Medical professionals can also fall victim to such stereotypes. Even
in the earlier to middle stages of alcoholism, many medical professionals will simply suggest the need to cut back on one’s drinking and fail to adequately recognize the signs of alcoholism. This also occurs in the mental health industry. There are many qualified psychiatrist, psychologist and therapist that fail to recognize the signs of alcoholism and believe that the alcoholics presenting symptoms relate to underlying emotional or psychological issues.
Alcoholics usually develop the ability to rationalize their drinking. They tell themselves they aren’t truly alcoholic because they do not want to see themselves as flawed, weak, or morally irresponsible. More importantly, the alcoholic can not identify their alcoholism because of the nature of their addiction. The addicted brain can not acknowledge there is a problem because if it were to do so, it would threaten its ability to continue to feed the alcohol addiction. A curious and fatal loop!
The family can also struggle with issues of denial. Issues of shame and embarrassment often come with the awareness that a loved one is, indeed, alcoholic. For many, alcohol abuse and alcoholism is seen as a weakness and can be a poor reflection on the family as a whole. More importantly, many families do not want to deal with the crisis at hand and prefer to pretend as though everything is as it should be: the neutral status quo.
If you or someone you love is in denial, the first step always includes getting honest. There may be situations where the family and close friends have to do an intervention on a loved one. This involves sharing with the alcoholic the impact their drinking is having on their lives. It includes one family member getting honest with another in the hopes that the alcoholic can recognize the devastation their drinking is causing in their own lives as well as the lives of those they care about.