The journey to addiction recovery is a challenging one. One of the most important steps towards receiving treatment and actually benefiting from it is simply admitting that you have a problem. Unfortunately, denial and addiction often go hand-in-hand. Many people believe that they can stop using drugs or alcohol at any time, or that they have the power to limit or control their substance abuse. This belief and the refusal to let it go can render even the most successful rehab types ineffective.
Rather than being recognized as failed willpower, laziness, or any other personal shortcoming, addiction is currently classified as a chronic mental health disorder. Also known as substance use disorder (SUD) or alcohol use disorder (AUD), addiction cannot be cured. Instead, addiction treatment is offered to provide patients with the skills and tools that they’ll need to successfully manage their addictions over time. Despite what you might think, it will never be safe to return to your substance of choice after completing rehab. For the rest of your life, you’ll have to make conscious, strategic choices that limit your risk of relapse and help you stay on course.
How Denial Can Derail Addiction Treatment
Addiction treatment works best when people are committed to making the most of their time in rehab, and when they recognize that outside help is absolutely essential. Denial breeds a false sense of confidence that make patient less receptive to the information they receive. For instance, while you might be coached on avoiding bars, nightclubs, or other high-risk locations where your substance of choice may be present, you might believe yourself able to withstand the related temptation on your own.
Denial can also set you apart from your peers in rehab. This can make for a very lonely experience even as it proves both unfulfilling and unrewarding. Most people who sign up for addiction treatment are ready to change their lives. They recognize that they no longer have the power to reverse their courses by themselves.
This understanding sets the tone in group discussions, in skill-building workshops, and in many other on-campus activities. Denial additionally creates a very high risk of relapse. People are more likely to:
- Return to high-risk relationships
- Neglect important relapse prevention exercises and techniques
- Maintain the same, unhealthy coping strategies
- Skip sober meetings, support groups, or other forms of post-treatment support
Given that addiction is considered a chronic, lifelong disease, the management of addiction must always be a concerted, ongoing effort. People who prioritize post-treatment support and make the recommended lifestyle changes have the highest rates of success in recovery. Longer treatment times are also associated with successful outcomes.
Unfortunately, if you don’t believe or admit that you have a problem, you won’t believe or admit that you need help, and you certainly won’t seek more of it. Going to rehab to appease family members or resolve legal issues won’t solve much at all. Moreover, if you eventually return to your former habits by experiencing a relapse, your family troubles and your legal woes could become much worse.
Admitting that you’re addicted can actually be very liberating. It empowers you to take charge of your life by seeking and accepting targeted assistance. It also empowers you to forgive yourself. Learning and accepting the fact that addiction affects the brain, its chemistry, and its functioning in ways that ultimately steal the power of choice is a step towards letting go of your guilt, shame, and regret. People who use drugs or alcohol just once or twice are experimenting. This is known as experimental or recreational substance use.
People who use them every day or on a regular basis are moving dangerously close to drug abuse. People who continue using substances even after facing extreme consequences such as job or housing loss, the loss of important relationships, or criminal charges are actively abusing them. Substance abuse is just one step away from full-blown addiction, and at this stage, addiction can happen at any time.
When it does, it represents the total loss of personal choice. Addicts who attempt to abstain find themselves engaging in obsessive, drug-seeking behaviors. They also develop intense physical and emotional withdrawal symptoms, and may experience life-threatening health changes. If you’re having a hard time admitting that you have an addiction, you’re not alone. Denial is a hallmark of both SUD and AUD. Overcoming it is a major step towards getting the help you need. To learn more about rehab or to find a program that’s right for you, call 855-334-6120 now. Our counselors are always standing by.