Signs of drug addiction denial

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To friends and family members, a loved one in the throws of addiction is clearly in need of help.

Yet the force of denial in addiction is a powerful one, and denial is extremely common in drug addicts who aren't ready or willing to stop using. Signs of drug addiction denial may vary, but it can usually be spotted in conjunction with aggressive, defensive or reckless behavior.

Continued use after negative consequences

One of the hallmark signs of addiction denial is when an addict continues to use drugs despite negative consequences. These consequences may be minor, like being reprimanded at work for too many absences, or they may be major, like getting arrested or losing large sums of money due to a drug habit. Continued use after negative consequences suggests that the addict still does not truly believe the behavior needs to be modified.

Defensiveness

An addict in denial is also usually a defensive one. He or she may feel the need to aggressively defend lifestyle choices or convince everyone that there is not a problem. Defensiveness is almost always a sign of denial, as it hints at the deeper problem that is not being recognized.

Excuses

Making excuses is also common when an addict is in denial. Despite negative consequences that have occurred because of drug use, the addict will usually come up with any number of excuses so as to deflect blame away from the drug use and onto something – or someone – else.

Lack of personal hygiene

Drug addicts may also express their denial in the way they care for themselves. For example, people who used to be well-groomed may suddenly have sloppy self-care habits but insist that they don't care about what they look like. Denial of the addiction can turn into denial of basic hygiene practices, weight loss or gain and other physical problems.

In general, if an addict shows one or more of these symptoms, the assumption can be made that denial is probably present. And until the person is willing to recognize the severity of the problem, denial will continue to persist – and perhaps worsen. In these cases, supportive friends and family members might be able to hold up the mirror for the addict through a loving but firm intervention.

Source: NIMH

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