I am not an alcoholic. Alcoholics drink every day, practically all the time. They usually live on the streets because they can barely function. I do just fine. I go to my IT job Monday through Friday, make all my scheduled appointments, and help my daughter with her homework some evenings.
I don’t think there is connection between the aggravation and irritability I feel and the days I do not have those tasty beverages. I don’t pay attention to how many Vodka cranberries I pour on nights when I’ve had a rough day, because I’ve earned some relaxation time. I can quit anytime I want.
I disagree with my wife’s comments about me having a different personality when I drink; I don’t see it that way. Besides, she drinks too sometimes, so who is she to say?
A psychological defense mechanism in which a person faced with facts about themselves too uncomfortable to accept rejects these facts, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.
Denial and Addiction
The way we turn away from looking at ugliness or cringe at seeing an unflattering photo, self-examination is difficult work. Sometimes the truth about ourselves is painful, so we avoid it entirely.
It is common for people who struggle with drug or alcohol addiction to distort or disavow the impact of their substance use, unable to face the harsh truths of the consequences of their behavior. Most of us want to believe we are good people. If we acknowledge the uglier side of our behavior, our self-image may be threatened.
More so than with any other type of addict, getting an alcoholic to accept that they need treatment can be very difficult indeed. In many cases, it takes an intervention with that individual to get him or her to accept treatment and enter a rehab program.
There are several reasons why it is more difficult to get an alcoholic to face his or her problem than other people with addictions:
- The overpowering properties of alcoholic denial
- The thin line between acceptable drinking and problem drinking by society’s standards
- High-functioning alcoholism and its characteristics
- Enabling family members
Alcoholic denial is such a strong propelling force that most alcoholics truly do not believe they have a problem. Much of the time, the alcoholic cannot even understand the problem, its extent and its repercussions until months into recovery or when they start “drying out.”
Drinking alcohol is part of normal society. Many, if not most, social events involve alcohol. Parties, get-togethers, work gatherings…everything revolves around drinking or at least involves it. Oftentimes, there is pressure to drink among colleagues or risk being perceived as odd.
There is a thin line between what is considered normal, acceptable drinking and what is considered problem drinking. This mindset plays into the alcoholic’s thinking, and he or she will alter his or her public behavior to normalize among peers.
When someone abuses illicit drugs, the problem is clearer in many respects because there is no legal or socially acceptable level of snorting cocaine or shooting up heroin. When someone abuses alcohol, however, it can be unclear what is too much to drink and what is acceptable.
If an alcoholic is still getting up every day and going to work, they may believe their drinking isn’t a problem. High-functioning alcoholics are the most difficult to convince about their drinking issues. They have learned all the tricks of appearing to be a normal social drinker while being masters of secrecy, concealment and justifications.
Like in the beginning example, distorted thinking prevents high-functioning alcoholics from getting the help they need. Complaining and confronting the person abusing alcohol typically accomplishes nothing.
When someone has developed into a high-functioning alcoholic, the best success rates employ a professional intervention for chronic alcohol abuse.
Oftentimes, spouses or family members will enable an alcoholic and shield them from the natural consequences and repercussions that would otherwise affect their loved one.
The compatible spouse of an alcoholic is a codependent. Alcoholics and codependents are often innately attracted to each other. A codependent assists an addict in his or her compulsive dependency by taking responsibility for the loved one, making excuses on the loved one’s behalf and minimizing, denying or fixing the many repercussions of the loved one’s harmful behavior.
The alcoholic often has dependent or codependent traits as well.
Sometimes, with good intentions to love, protect and shield their children, parents become enablers for their addicted child.
Getting an Alcoholic to Accept Help
When it comes to alcoholics, severe alcohol abusers, frequent binge drinkers and chronic alcohol abusers, an intervention is often not only necessary, but it’s the one thing that can break their alcoholic denial and get them to accept treatment.
It is crucial that the person with the alcohol abuse problem accept the treatment himself or herself. Forcing someone into rehab is not going to do any good in the long run. Unless the addict recognizes he or she has a problem and then accepts treatment, the prospects for a lasting recovery are low and the chances of relapse are high.
Interventions for Alcoholism Through Elevate
Elevate Addiction Services offers professional experienced interventionists who are ready to help your family support your struggling loved one. Using a professional interventionist increases the chances of a successful intervention significantly.
If you have a loved one who you believe needs an intervention for alcoholism, contact Elevate Addiction Services today. Delaying treatment only worsens the problem and risks the life of your loved one.