Denial Breaking

January 22, 2016
Solace Sabah

This is the first line you will hear anyone abusing Drugs or Alcohol utter the moment they are confronted about their use.

The refusal to accept the truth and live in an altered reality (which is a lie) is called DENIAL. Denial is a psychological response for us not to accept something that we do not like the truth of or is too painful to see.Denial is a form of repression, where stressful thoughts are banned from memory. If I do not think about it, then I do not suffer the associated stress have to deal with it. However, people engaging in Denial can pay a high cost in terms of the psychic energy needed to maintain the denial state.

In its full form, it is totally subconscious, and sufferers may be as shocked by the behavior of people around them as those people are by the behavior of the sufferers. It may also have a significant conscious element, where the sufferer is simply 'turning a blind eye' to an uncomfortable situation.

People use DENIAL all the time:

  • A man hears that his wife has been killed, and yet refuses to believe it, still setting the table for her and keeping her clothes and other accoutrements in the bedroom.
  • A person having an affair does not think about pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases.
  • People take credit for their successes and find 'good reason' for their failures, blaming the situation, other people, etc.

The same applies to an addict as well. Addiction is a form of self medication. People use it to medicate themselves from emotional or mental trauma they have or have not experienced in their life. This is the fundamental basis people keep going back even though it is deemed and understood to be dangerous.

Now, coming back - How do we help an addict who feels he does not have a problem?

a) Allow him/her to die of their addictions.

b) Expect the law to intervene and allow the person to be criminalised.

c) Admission into an institution/asylum for physiological damages from their addiction.

The options are tragic. That is why one needs to intervene and save the individual from their altered reality which is consequently harming them.

In order to intervene, we need to understand where the person is in their addictive journey. An addict will always be in a particular stage of change, knowing where they are gives an opportunity to intervene correctly.

  • Pre-Contemplation - I am not an addict - Most difficult to help this person.
  • Contemplation - I might be an addict - The door is open for help.
  • Preparation - I am an addict and I want to stop - Provide the help that is needed.
  • Action - I am going to stop now - Need of a supportive and clinical environment.
  • Maintenance - I am going to stay stopped - constant motivation and encouragement.

What this article focuses on is primarily the pre contemplation stage - which is also the most difficult.

Circumstances generally lead a person to defend his addictive behavior and use.

a) Family - Loved ones cannot see the damage being done - this is the earliest place we can bring the person without any harm into treatment.b) Law - Robbery, Violence can bring the person into the laws eyes and this will in turn seek punishment for the individual.c) Health - Possible organ damage or any other emergency that leads to hospitalisation.

If the family does not take measures, the law will, if the law does not, the body will - eventually taking the life itself from the Addict. I hope families do get to read this and understand the urgent nature of this problem.

Getting them help from professionals is the best way forward. This could be Solace if you are in Malaysia or any other intervention group, googling it will bring it up. Most rehabs do offer this as a service, sadly, some of them use force or arm twisting using law and other measures to bring an addict into treatment - so it is best to watch out and check any previous interventions and their successes.

Professionals are trained to use motivational interviewing, giving the addict the ability to reason their addiction themselves and prepare them for treatment and recovery. In the end, a plan will be built and will ONLY be successful if they are allowed to do what they are trained for and all instructions are followed. Remember, in the end - we are making a life decision for someone, let us not exercise this act in haste.

I am not an Addict
I may be an Addict
I am an Addict and need help
I will stop
I will remain stopped.

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