An alcoholic’s denial of his problem often goes hand-in-hand with the problem itself. In many cases, an alcoholic will be the last person who admits that he has a problem. The people in his life recognize the problem, but take the easier routes of either ignoring or enabling it out of fear of confrontations or lack of any confidence that they will be able to convince the alcoholic to acknowledge his disease. If you have concluded that your loved one’s alcohol consumption has crossed the line from heavy drinking and into alcoholism, you are likely facing a difficult decision of whether to continue to follow one of those easier routes, or to tell the alcoholic that he is in denial and needs to seek help.
Should I Tell An Alcoholic That He’s In Denial?
Before you make that decision, you need to be comfortable with your conclusion that the person you are about to confront really is in denial over his problem. Ask yourself if he becomes annoyed or argumentative when you suggest that he might be drinking too much. Alcoholics will often shift the blame for their problems to other people and situations in their lives. If their drinking causes them to miss work or social engagements, they will make up excuses other than drinking for those lapses. They might show signs of guilt over their drinking or they might try to cover up the amount of alcohol they consume. If you see any of these signs, try to maintain a written log of events as they happen over a short period of time. If and when you do confront the alcoholic, that log will help you to make your case.
Understand Addiction Denial
You should understand that denial is a coping mechanism that is deeply ingrained in almost every individual. When a person is faced with an problem that is, by objective measures, insurmountable, that person’s survival instincts might kick in to cause him to deny the problem. That same instinct can also keep you from talking to the alcoholic about his drinking. You might place a high value on your relationship with the alcoholic, in which case you will resort to denying the problem yourself in order to salvage what you can of the relationship. You may first need to get past your own denial in order to convince the alcoholic that he is in denial of his own problem.
Whether you decide to tell the alcoholic that he is in denial will ultimately be a function of your relationship with that person and how close you are to him. You need to assure yourself that a problem exists, that you can communicate the problem with objective examples, and that you can manage any conflict that may arise when you raise the subject. If the alcoholic has any feelings for you, use examples of how his alcoholism is adversely affecting your life. Above all else, stay as objective as you can and do not be argumentative. Have a definite objective when you do confront the alcoholic, including, for example, that you want him to talk to a counselor, attend an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, or even check into a rehab center. Do not assume that one discussion will convince an alcoholic to seek help. You may need to speak with him multiple times. Always focus on your goal of convincing the alcoholic that he is denying the existence of his problem. If you conclude that you cannot accomplish this task, look for professional help from an intervention counselor or an addiction recovery specialist.
Your life and your relationship with the alcoholic will remain in tumult if he does not acknowledge and get help for his problem.
If you need assistance with talking to an alcoholic about his denial of his disease, please call the Last Resort Recovery Center near Austin, Texas, at 512-360-3600. We can provide a confidential consultation and give you multiple suggestions on how best to approach the alcoholic in your life.