Author: Gary Jackson

How to Help an Alcoholic in Denial

Comparisons of Groups 1 and 2 revealed that the 82% who were deniers were slightly younger and had lower proportions with alcohol dependence, lower average maximum drinks, and fewer AUD criteria endorsed compared to non-deniers. Group 1 deniers were also less likely to endorse every specific AUD criterion except for D3 (drinking more or longer than intended). AUD offspring in Group 1 on average reported fewer drinks required for effects across the timeframes (SRE-T), were less involved with other drugs and had lower scores on sensation seeking. Sixty-seven percent of 94 AUD probands and 82% of 176 AUD offspring reported themselves as light or moderate social drinkers despite averages of up to 12 maximum drinks per occasion and four DSM problems.

why are alcoholics in denial

Not everyone who has alcohol use disorder hides or denies they misuse alcohol. Unlike denial, which is a coping mechanism, anosognosia is the result of changes to the frontal lobe of the brain. Others may be at a point where they know they need to make a change. “Mental health care is critical for achieving long-term success in overcoming AUD,” says Elhaj.

Do Understand They’ll Need Outside Help

AUD offspring self-ratings were 0% non-drinkers, 24% infrequent/occasional light social drinkers, 58% moderate social drinkers, 13% frequent/heavy social drinkers, 2% problematic drinkers/alcoholics and 3% recovering alcoholics. The SRE records numbers of standard drinks required for up to four effects including a first effect, feeling dizzy or slurring speech, unstable standing, and unplanned falling asleep. SRE-5 scores for the first five times of drinking and is generated by the total drinks in that period needed across effects divided by the number of effects endorsed. SRE-T scores reflect the average across first five, heaviest drinking period, and recent 3-month drinking.

Half reported a biological father with DSM-III alcoholism and half had no known alcoholic relative (American Psychiatric Association, 1980; Schuckit and Gold, 1988). If you have a loved one who is struggling with addiction, you may feel overwhelmed and uncertain about how to help them, especially if they are in denial about their unhealthy substance use. Fortunately, there are resources available to help you find support for your loved one such as the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Treatment Administration (SAMHSA) and the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). You can also start researching rehab facilities, such as American Addiction Centers (AAC) to find out about what to expect during treatment, how to pay for services, and more. You can’t force someone to quit drinking, but you can start a supportive conversation. It’s a good idea to ask questions, let the person with AUD lead the conversation, and avoid judgment and accusations.

Denial & Addiction

The contemplative stage ends with the decision to make a change, yet further steps such as preparation, action, and later maintenance and likely relapse are usually needed before the addiction is controlled. Enabling occurs when someone else covers up or makes excuses for the person who has a SUD. As a result, the person with a SUD doesn’t deal with the consequences of their actions. Substance use disorder is a primary, chronic, and progressive disease that sometimes can be fatal. No matter your background or expertise, your loved one will likely need outside help. For those who love someone living with an addiction, it is very difficult to sit back and let the crisis play out to its fullest extent.

We are available to explore addiction treatment options that can help you or your loved one get the assistance needed to start recovery. It is important to recognize that just because you have realized that your loved one may be in need of an alcohol addiction treatment program, that does not mean they will agree. Coming to the rescue of a loved one who struggles with alcohol dependence may seem like the right thing to do, but it essentially allows them to never experience the negative consequences of their drinking. When a person starts abusing alcohol, they may feel they have a good reason. Stress, obligations, trauma, abuse, or any other number of negative circumstances can seem like an acceptable reason to pick up a bottle or have a drink. It is not your job to “cure” your loved one’s alcoholism, but allowing natural consequences to occur is one factor that can push a person from the pre-contemplative stage to the contemplative stage of overcoming addiction.

Not sure where to start?

Before you realize it, you can find yourself in a full-blown abusive relationship. Many family members of someone struggling with alcohol dependency try everything they can think of to get their loved one to stop drinking. Unfortunately, this usually results in leaving those family members feeling lonely and frustrated. A more appropriate way to screen patients for alcohol impairment would be to use a standardized and more detailed review of patterns of drinking and alcohol-related problems such as the ten item AUDIT. This instrument takes only a few minutes complete and can be filled out by patients in the waiting room (Babor, 2001; Sanchez-Roige et al., 2019).

  • Certain traits, such as independence and perfectionism, can add to a person’s hesitancy or reticence to seek help, says Grawert.
  • Sometimes, a person’s personality can influence their tendency for denial.
  • As a result, the person with a SUD doesn’t deal with the consequences of their actions.
  • Some people with alcohol use disorder hide or deny they have difficulty with alcohol use.
  • Regression analyses indicated deniers evidenced less intense alcohol and drug-related problems and identified DSM-IV criterion items that they were most likely to deny.
  • Starting treatment needs to be a choice, and the person with AUD needs to be ready to make it.