What is it about an addict’s denial that is so hard to pierce through? Getting through to an addict or alcoholic sometimes seems like it is impossible, and they just cannot seem to take action and do what they need to do in order to face their problem.
The big barrier is fear. That is the biggest part of denial than an addict has to deal with in most cases. They are afraid to change. They are afraid to look at themselves squarely and make an honest assessment and agree that they need to change some things. It is the fear of facing a life without drugs or alcohol or self medicating with anything. This is the kind of fear that keeps people trapped in denial.
Now there are a number of different approaches that you can take to try and break through to the struggling addict, but most of them are not so effective. For example, most people take the approach of being confrontational and accusatory towards the addict. They try to intimidate the person a little even and accuse them of being an addict and try to bully them into getting help. This almost always backfires and just drives the addict further into isolation and resentment against you.
The other popular tactic is to be sort of the opposite of this, and to come at the person from this loving and caring standpoint, and try to convince them that they need only from the perspective of being very loving and caring for them. This usually fails as well, because it does not really engage the addict at all or inspire them to want to change in any way.
So what does work? How can we break through their denial? The best way is to talk to them in such a way that you lead them into breaking through their own denial. This is very difficult to do and in many cases it will be impossible, just depending on where that person is really at in terms of being honest with themselves about their addiction and their life. If you can use a line of questioning that leads them to come to their own conclusions, then you might be able to lead them closer to real change. It does not good to force someone into treatment, because they are not going to change if they are not ready to go. But if they have a willingness to go to rehab on their own, then there is a good chance that it will actually work for them. But they have to want it for themselves.
If you struggle to implement these ideas with the addict in your life then you should seek help from an al-anon meeting in your area. There they can give you pinpoint advice on how exactly you can proceed in dealing with the addict that is in your life.