How to Convince Someone that they are an Alcoholic or Drug Addict
How can you convince someone that they are an alcoholic or a drug addict?
Or rather, you actually can. But it won’t do any good.
You see, the nature of denial is not that the alcoholic won’t admit that they have a problem. The nature of denial is that they will not accept that they have a problem.
Read that again. There is a big difference there.
In the beginning of my drinking career, I still had denial about my ability to control my drinking. I held on to the illusion that if I really wanted to, someday, I could drink like a normal person and enjoy my liquor without going overboard. I did not yet suspect that I was a genuine alcoholic….at least not in the early days.
As the years went on, I came to realize the true nature of my condition. This is something that I had to admit on my own, and to myself. When others tried to diagnose me, I would not listen. I finally came to see what I really was through my own experiences. I realized that I was beaten; that alcohol had defeated me, and that I was its slave. I knew that I was down for the count. I fully admitted to myself and to others how hopeless my condition had become. Other people could not convince me of my problem.
But understand that this was still denial. Drinking remained my solution. I was at a point where I would readily admit to being alcoholic, but was not yet willing to do anything about it. I continued to drink for some time after that, until I finally accepted my disease.
Accepting alcoholism or drug addiction means that you are willing to do something about it.
How Can You Tell when an Alcoholic or Drug Addict is Serious about Wanting to Change?
Sometimes people pay lip service to the idea of “quitting for good.” All of us who have drank as alcoholics have made promises to others–and to ourselves–that we simply could not keep. We promised to change but simply could not do it. Perhaps we were not ready. In my case, I can say that I did not change after those promises to myself because I wasn’t ready. I have no better explanation about why I continued to drink and self-destruct. I know that in those cases when I failed to remain sober, I wanted to change on my own terms. I wanted to change my way.
Of course that never worked. So you will know when someone is truly ready to change: when they are willing to try it on someone else’s terms. In other words, if an alcoholic is trying to design their own recovery program–chances are they have not truly surrendered to the disease. If, on the other hand, they are truly beaten by alcoholism or drug addiction–and they have become willing to change–then they will start following the advice of those who are trying to help them. This is a genuine humility–to ask for help about how to live. This is the surrender that defines the beginning of recovery.