When A Family Member Refuses To Acknowledge The Addiction

When you have a loved one with addiction, the pain, suffering, and loneliness are sometimes overwhelming. Do you know what makes these feelings worse? Having someone else in the family in complete denial over the loved one's addiction.
It's particularly frustrating when you can see the problem but someone else is 
sabotaging you behind the scenes.

We see this play out so often in our office.  The person in denial is either a parent, grandparent and occasionally a sibling.  This creates a big problem because you have
one person who doesn't want to believe that the person has an addiction. It can interfere with the whole process of getting the addicted person to recovery. 

This happens in almost every case. I get it, it's uncomfortable to absorb this information and to sit with it. It's much like a grieving process. 

The denial is a self-protective mechanism of some sort. Denial is always protecting you from something that you're not ready to see.

What does it look like when there's denial within the family? 
 

  • Arguing
  • Silence
  • Hyper-focusing on the event

If your spouse is in denial over your child, then you're going to spend a lot of time focusing on it which is going to make you believe it even more. You're going to try to convince them and or be silent because you're so mad at him or he's mad at you that you just stop talking in general. s

When you're the only one that sees what's happening,  it leaves you feeling completely alone, angry, sad, and exhausted! Exhausted because you're just constantly trying to validate that you're right or maybe even that you're wrong but you
know in your mind that you are right. You almost fall back into "well maybe I am crazy."  Which is common gaslighting from the addict.

What do you do if you're the family member that can see the problem and you're trying to help the situation?

You're going to have to let them fall in it. If you stop trying to force everybody to see it and just back up it shows itself. I like to say, "You don't have to chase it. You don't have to look for it. You don't have to spy it down. It shows itself, all you have to do is stand back and it's going to rear its head"
 
Most of the time in a shorter period than you want. If you stop running interference and arguing with them, checking all the messages, making all the calls. If
the other person has to be on the front lines of it, they will see it faster. Whether that's the spouse, the in-laws, the grandparents, whoever. You have to stop engaging in it
 
whatsoever.
 
Amber Hollingsworth
 
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