Break through Denial and Get Some Alcohol Addiction Help

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Alcohol addiction help is not easy to come by, especially if someone is closed off to the idea of changing their life.

The idea of giving up drinking forever is scary and overwhelming. The mind of the typical alcoholic recoils at such a thought and the natural reaction is to stick our head in the sand like an ostrich.

Do you know someone who is addicted to alcohol or think that you yourself might be? If so, it’s time to stop dodging the truth and take an honest look at what might be going on in your life. If you can no longer ignore the signs of alcohol addiction then the first course of action is to figure this out and admit it to yourself on a really deep level. This is otherwise known as acceptance.

alcohol addiction
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On the other hand there are people out there who drink huge amounts of alcohol and they actually are not addicted. Instead they are just abusing alcohol for fun and recreation. A good example of this would be with kids in college.

But on the other hand, someone who is truly addicted to alcohol might use this “alcohol abuse” idea to merely suggest to themselves that they are not really addicted, but merely enjoy their drinking and can actually stop anytime that they “really want to.” This state of mind is known as denial. Therefore, the first step in getting help for alcohol addiction is in breaking through this denial and correctly assessing the condition.

Breaking through denial

There are actually a few levels of denial. Most of us think of denial as being the outright denial of something and the refusal to see the truth at all. This is just one level of denial. The more insidious level of denial is when we actually see the truth, and sense the truth, and even admit to the truth…..but we do not accept the truth. There is a subtle difference there and it is enough to keep a person addicted to alcohol and slowly keep destroying their life.

You see, it is not enough to merely admit to our alcohol addiction. This is required, yes, but to break through your denial fully you must go further than that. A person must fully accept their disease on a really deep level. They must openly admit that they cannot drink like other people. They must accept that they have been defeated by the substance and that they need help in order to overcome this addiction. That is the level of acceptance that is needed and anything short of this is someone who is still in denial.

Think about it. Say you have a person who is clearly an alcoholic. You confront them about it and they admit that they drink too much. “Yes,” they agree, “at times I drink too much and I am probably addicted to alcohol. But…” See what happened there? They admit to their addiction but added a “but” at the end. Now whatever comes after that “but” is their denial. They might be arguing against going to treatment. They might be resisting the idea that you think they should seek help. Whatever the case is, they are refuting it and they are still stuck in denial.

The nature of alcohol addiction is that a person cannot overcome it through their own power. If they could, then they are not addicted. If an alcoholic can control or completely stop their drinking via their own devices, then they are not alcoholic.

So denial is almost always about refuting this need for help. “Yes I am addicted but I don’t need to seek help.” That is the mantra of someone in denial.

Now is it possible to help someone break through this denial?

Yes it is possible but the tactics are not as direct as you would like. In other words, you’re not going talk someone out of their denial and convince them to go seek help. Rather, the things you can do to “help” the alcoholic to move towards surrender are more indirect than that. These are things such as:

1) Not enabling them

2) Not rescuing them

3) Letting them experience the full consequences of their actions

4) Setting healthy boundaries and limits with them (deciding what is acceptable behavior from them and what is not)

If you can follow these guidelines then you might be able to push a person closer to surrender and breaking through their denial. Remember that it does no good for someone to admit their problem unless they are willing to take action to fix it. What will they commit to? It’s all about action.

Taking action towards help

Recovery is all about action and if you want to see someone get clean and sober then a good place to start is with professional help. This usually means treatment of some sort, with either detox and/or residential treatment being involved.

I am a proponent of treatment even though there are a lot of problems with the current treatment industry. I still recommend treatment for the struggling alcoholic because the alternatives are even more dismal. But do understand that treatment is not a magic bullet, and in fact relapse rates from even the best and/or most expensive treatment centers are extremely bad. Different treatment centers might throw different success rates around but the bottom line is that no one has even a 10 percent success rate if you measure, say, five year sobriety rates. Meaning that far less than 1 out of every 10 people will be clean and sober for a full 5 years after leaving treatment. The number is probably closer to 1 out of 100 people and it might even be worse than that.

Nevertheless I still recommend treatment because it is better than nothing and it does have a few advantages:

1) Safer detox – coming off alcohol is dangerous and can be fatal. Don’t risk doing it without medical supervision. Detoxing at a treatment center is the safest route for you to go.

2) Support from peers – there are others in treatment who are going through the same thing you are. The networking and support you’ll gain from this is critical in early recovery.

3) Options for continued care – treatment will offer solutions for aftercare and after you leave the treatment center.

Now even if you decide against treatment you must realize that the whole key in overcoming alcohol addiction is in taking action. If all you do is think about your problems with alcohol they are not going to go away. You must do something in order to recover.

Living sober

Now if you happen to break through your denial and get to a treatment and manage to get dried out, you still have to live in your own skin and make something of a real life for yourself. This is where the real challenge comes in. Almost anyone can check into treatment and get a few weeks of sobriety but what happens when you leave treatment?

An even better question is, what happens 90 days later? Or 5 years later? How can we stay vigilant against the threat of relapse?

This is where the need for creation come into play – we need to create a new life for ourselves in recovery. This means living with purpose and actively pursuing worthy goals that fuel us with passion. If you are not excited about life then eventually you will return to something that did get you excited and that was always drinking booze in the past. So you have to find ways to create passion and opportunity in your life so that you can guard against this constant threat of relapse.

How can we actually do this? I am doing it in my life by reaching out to other addicts and alcoholics on a daily basis. For me, that is where the biggest payoff is in terms of feeling good about my own recovery. In addition to this website, I happen to work in a treatment center and I also have several friends in recovery. So I have created these opportunities to share and grow in recovery with others.

But creation can occur in different areas of your life–it need not always be recovery-oriented. For example, I’ve actively created some awesome results in my life in the following ways:

1) Created a routine of daily exercise

2) Created a smoke free life over 3 years ago

3) Created a Bachelor’s degree (finally!)

These were acts of creation. They required deliberate, purposeful action. I didn’t just accidentally exercise every day. I had to do it. This is a glimpse into the nature of creation.

Take action. This is how to beat complacency and achieve long term sobriety.


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  • Steven

    Congratulations on your Bachelor’s degree. That is truly a remarkable accomplishment considering all you have been through. Any plans for postgraduate work?

  • Patrick

    As far as post graduate work I am not too keen on continuing a formal education at this point. I have a 40 hour per week day job working with recovering addicts and alcoholics and I also have this website that I write on daily. For now, that is enough, and I am really excited to see how both paths unfold for me…..

  • Sandy Wade

    Is there any help anywhere for people who need treatment now but cannot afford it. I have been through ten years of strife – divorce, broken leg and most recently, loss of employment.

    I drank wine almost on a daily basis through this period. Are there eny books, or help – I can’t afford a treatment cetner or even a doctor right now.


  • Patrick

    Hi there Sandy

    It depends on what State or Country you live in, also it depends on your insurance or if you have Medicaid or anything like that.

    Best route to take is to call a local treatment center on the phone and talk to them about your options. Many times they can get funding through the State you live in for you to attend for free. Sometimes this is not an option though.

    I would also encourage someone in your position to attend AA or NA meetings. They are free and can offer a ton of support.

    Good luck to you….

  • Ethan

    Thank you so much for posting this. I am researching this topic for a private matter and this is very helpful and informative.

  • khutso

    This is the best sight ever,keep on the good work for freaks like us.

  • Brenda

    My brother is an alcoholic and I have asked him not be here (he lives with me) when he is drinking or drunk. I will not allow alcohol
    on my property, now I feel so guility because he is now up at the hotel. His money will run out soon. He is driving me crazy. Did I do wrong. He has me so upset sometimes I think about ending MY

  • Patrick

    No I don’t think you did wrong, Brenda. It is a tough situation. You have your rules (no alcohol) and he failed to follow them. His alcoholism is secondary to this. He needs to face his own consequences.

    If you bend over backwards for him, he will not change. He will never surrender to the disease if people enable him and make his life more functional for him.

  • Marie

    My boyfriend and I have been dating for 6 months. He never told me that he was an alcoholic. He relapsed about a month ago and I was in complete shock. I had no idea what was going on. He relapsed again this weekend and he is home as we speak and I feel like I’m living a nightmare. I work and live with him. Last month I covered for him at work and he didn’t lose his job. I told him that I’m not covering for him this time. I’m pretty sure he’s losing him job this time. I don’t know what to do. I’m going to my first Alanon meeting tonight, because I don’t know what to do. I don’t know how to handle the situation when he sobers up again. Apparently his pattern is that he binge drinks for about 5 days. Then he goes into detox to sober up. He’s an amazing guy. Very educated…Full Scholorship for baseball in college. Very sucessful and treats me great, but we have this issue. I’m told to move out and take a break from him until he finally decides to go to AA or some kind of support group. His drinking patterns are so odd that he goes months without drinking and feels great, so he doesn’t think he needs AA even though he admits he is an alcoholic. He really needs support. This pattern has been going on for years. He has ruined a fiance over this. In and out of relationships. I’m lost for words and need advise on how to support him, but I also need to put myself first.

  • Patrick

    Hi there Marie

    Your boyfriend is a type of alcoholic that they call a binge drinker. I am not a binger and I do not have much experience working with them to be honest with you. But I know that it really does not matter what kind of alcoholic you are….the solutions are always the same. So I would not get sidetracked with the fact that he is a binger. Hopefully you will get some good direction at Al-anon, that is a good choice on your part.

    The idea of “taking a break” from the relationship might be a good one. There are certainly worse outcomes I can think of, so maybe that is a good route to go. Seek advice from your Al-anon group too…..

  • Trish

    I am an addict in recovery and have recently let one of my old aquaintences from the past come and stay with me and my husband. He seems to have really misled us about the state he is in. He would tell us anything for us to let him come here, now the story has changed and he is not interested in getting help at all. He already went out and got drunk twice, and is using. I forgot what it was like to be manipulated so badly. I am going to suggest he go to detox before things get really bad. I am in a really awkward situation here and don’t trust the violent and aggressive behavior to stay at bay. I really wish I had not agreed to help. My helping has very quickly and clearly become enabling. Has anyone out there ever tried to tell an alcoholic addict the word “no” before? It usually isn’t pretty. I have been reading all the comments and I would like to say thank you to everyone for helping me see the truth…this was a really bad idea. I cannot expect him to speak truth, there is not truth to speak right now. Very unrealistic expectation. Big gap between words and action, that should have been my first clue…..

  • Patrick

    Yeah that is a tough situation there Trish, sounds like you are just too nice and that has got the better of you. I have learned this myself the hard way and will not let a using addict or alcoholic crash on my couch. One night becomes one week and then my sobriety is in jeopardy. Not worth it, so it is simply not an option. I work hard to get where I am at and I will do anything I can to help someone, but I am not going to put myself at risk. If I lose my sobriety then I can help no one…..

  • Addiction Recovery

    Patrick, I agree. The hardest thing for people to do is to recognize that they have a problem. Too many people now days think that they are social drinkers, when in reality, they are alcoholics.

  • cody

    AA is for quiters

  • cody also

    people who drink and drive are dumb as hell but the stupid police will fuck with you even if your walking so fuck it is wat is going through dudes mind any ways

  • cody also

    patrick i think your a fucking ideot the only way to git that week minded dude some help is to git him the hell away from you and your family befor shit gets bad and detox is just for people who acctually want to quit and help them selvs