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Addiction Recovery - Effects of Denial in the Family

Like a cancer or other serious disease, addiction and alcoholism don’t go away because you ignore it.  We have all known many people who have denied the symptoms of a serious illness until they were hospitalized, or even died.  And we’ve all said “they could have been helped!” or “why did they wait so long?”

Denial is a powerful force that helps us handle emotional pain.  But by doing this long-term, more and more damage is done, and the problem just gets worse and worse.  It is important to remember that denial harms, not helps.

What denial in the family DOES:

  • Children of addicts or alcoholics have higher incidences of substance abuse
  • Family members continue the role of denial not only at home, but also in public, pretending that all is normal and healthy
  • Children of addicts or alcoholics often keep their emotions hidden, and have a higher incidence of serious mental health issues like anxiety and depression
  • Cause financial problems because resources are used to support the addiction

What denial in the family DOESN’T do:

  • Help your addicted loved one get better
  • Keep other friends and family from knowing that there is a problem
  • Protect your children from growing up in a broken home
  • Keep your children from using drugs or alcohol
  • Help you avoid financial or legal problems
  • Keep your addicted loved one “safe”

No family member wants to believe that the role they are playing keeps the addicted person from getting help.  You know that you want to help them, that you want their addiction or alcoholism to stop breaking your family apart.

The addict is in denial about their problem, until they hit rock bottom and seek help, or are involuntarily put into a treatment center.  Addiction is a family disease that hurts everyone involved. 

You aren’t the cause of your loved one's addiction, nor can you cure them.  But you can choose to begin helping yourself by facing the fact of your denial.  Then choose to get help.

Learn more about Signs and Symptoms of Addiction.