It is a sad fact of life that with denial plus the use of harmful substances, the addict is usually the last person to realize that they have a problem. Additionally, this makes them the last person to accept the fact that they need help with their addiction. This acceptance most of the time usually comes from the immediate family, or the ones closest to the addict such as friends or co-workers. This is where the tricky part of the disease of addiction comes into play. When a person is told that they have a physical illness, such as diabetes or high-blood pressure, the individual accepts the diagnosis from a medical professional and begins the necessary steps in treating their ailment. Contrarily with the addict, when they addict is first met with their addiction, denial is almost always the default defense mechanism. This in turn just causes them to turn to drugs more. This is why it is often stated that addiction is the only illness that requires a self-diagnosis to have any true effect at approaching a solution
Unfortunately for the interventionist, denial is the number one challenge they face when addressing the addicted individual. Getting them to overcome that denial is often times considered the very first step in their treatment. Since denial stands to prevent the acceptance portion of the individual’s treatment, the interventionist’s goal is to expose the denial of the individual which also exposes their refusal to acknowledge negative consequences.
Often times, we see negative consequences themselves manifest as a form of intervention. One such example would be in legal intervention, such as with an arrest that threatens loss of freedom or property. This is where you start seeing a lot of individuals being “court ordered” into treatment, often times referred to as mandated treatment, in lieu of incarceration. This allows a little bit of an ax to hang over a person’s head; essentially with the mindset of “It’s here, or jail.” Another such intervention to be considered is often times called a workplace intervention. This would be where the person’s poor performance and the threat of losing their job brings them into treatment, often times by an employee assistance program (EAP).
While these forms of intervention have proved successful into reaching an individual to break their denial, sometimes consequences don’t speak the volumes we feel they should. Instead, specialists who implement formal interventions (such as ours here at Compassionate Interventions) know that their interventions must first begin and end from a place of love, or at the very least general concern. This, coupled with the revelation of the addict’s disease, squashing it of all secrecy helps to break away the denial they have towards their addiction. This is best employed and aided by the help of the significant person’s in the addict’s life, ensuring the addict that there are people who care about them, and want them to get better.
While there are several ways to break through denial, we at Compassionate Interventions do not want to see the addict get there as a result of consequence. We feel, that through an assurance of the addict’s capabilities and value, their denial can be broken through a loving and healing focused system, which can, in turn, bring them into the loving arms of recovery. Of course, this means that they have to want to experience the healing, which cannot start until they break through their own denial.
-J. Dalton Williams
Inaba, Darryl S. Cohen, William E. Uppers, Downers, All Arounders: Physical and Mental Effects of Psychoactive Drugs. 8th ed. CNS Productions, INC. 2014.