Help for Families of Addicts - Part 2 Denial of Addiction
You can't reason with an addict. Just telling them that the drug is destroying them won't even slow them down. The drug addict truly believes they are in control. This is what is often called denial. Denial is nothing more than a defense mechanism whereby painful realities are ignored or explained away. Addiction is centered on escaping ones reality, and so truth is avoided, denied, and sometimes whole new realities are created in an addict’s imagination to avoid the truth.
Due to the addict’s false sense of reality, they believe that all of the actual or potential damage you talk to them about could only happen to somebody else; all addicts are convinced that they are the exception. You can only point out to your loved-one what the drug is doing to their life right now. You tell them that they messed up at work, and got fired. You can let them know that today their spouse moved out, and filed a restraining order against them. In many cases, you are going to be the only reality-check your loved-one has. And, although it seems useless, it is important to continue to speak the truth to the addict regardless of their denial.
If you protect them from the results of their drug use, you are not doing your job. In fact, you are hurting them by enabling them. You have to force them to face the consequences of their drug use. The drug addict is making everybody's life around them miserable. They think that nobody knows that they are using drugs. They even think that it is nobody's business, and they have the right to do whatever they want to do. On and on they go down this destructive path.
Addicts know what buttons to push to make you feel guilty and sympathetic. Sooner or later, most parents or families of addicts go through a stage of intense guilt over what has happened to their child or loved-one. They might say, "If I had only been a better father, a better mother, a better brother or sister, a better husband or wife, a better child, perhaps then my loved-one would not be an addict”. These thoughts are often Satanic, for once you accept the responsibility, and ask for forgiveness you are under no condemnation. In reality, your loved-one, who is in active addiction right now, has made the choice for himself. The responsibility for his addiction is 100 percent his own. Yes, the ground around them may have been fertilized by a myriad of negative influences -- such as bad choices, bad actions, bad language, and bad advice -- but they are ultimately responsible for the choice of continuing to live in their addictive behavior.
The addict will use your guilt in an attempt to get you to continue to help support their drug habit. They will attempt to force you to tolerate behavior that is completely unacceptable. We must not allow this ploy to work! As one looks back over his life, he can always think of something he could have done differently. Each and every person could do this. There are always things that could have been said or done differently or more correctly. However, it must be understood that the addict continuing in their destructive behavior is their fault alone--and nobody else’s.
Your addicted loved-one may blame you for their drug addiction, but the first step in their recovery is to take responsibility for their actions. REMEMBER: It is NOT your problem; it is THEIR PROBLEM! We must be certain of this lest your loved one capitalize on your guilty feelings and use them to manipulate you. It is typically very difficult for the addict to accept responsibility for his addiction. To do so requires that they admit that they are wrong, and made a mistake; and, of course, they don't want to do that! The addict can't bear to acknowledge that he has caused so much pain and destruction in his own life as well as the lives of those closest to him. Coping with these emotions is extremely painful for the addict, and the shame associated with this lifestyle is immense. Therefore, rather than taking responsibility, they try to blame you for everything. The addict will often point to things such as your parenting style, your career or lack thereof, the neighborhood that they were raised in, the amount of time that you spent with them, the people you associated with, etc. This list can go on and on as the addict will never cease to come up with viable excuses.
Knowing that there is no end to the list of things that an addicted loved-one can find wrong with you to explain their addiction, we must draw lines and set limits. We must stand firm and maintain that the addict alone is the one responsible for his responses to the world around them-- including any imperfections and limitations that you may have.
Addiction prevents the addict from focusing on personal development, and because of this addicts are typically immature. An addict copes with life by refusing to take responsibility for his own actions; they have learned to deal with conflict by simply avoiding or escaping it. If they have a fight with their parents, they go out and get high. If they have a problem at school, they come home and get high. Lots of children grow up in homes just like yours, and they did not become addicted. Your loved-one is not the only person that grew up without a father. He is not the only one who grew up in a rough neighborhood. He is not the only one that grew up with an older brother (or sister) that was much more talented than him. He is not the only one that grew up in a poverty-stricken family. Don't let your loved one make you feel guilty for the things you had no control over, or had no way of knowing about. Even in the direst situation, where a child may have even been abused, that child makes their own choice about continuing to use drugs. He continues to choose to respond to life by escaping, avoiding, and using drugs instead of coping.
If you don't understand the truth behind accepting the blame, your addicted loved-one will continue to lie and manipulate your compassion, take advantage of your trust, and mock your mercy. They know you love them, and they take advantage of that fact. They will milk you for all you are worth. They may live in your back bedroom or basement, and they may disappear somewhere for days getting high and then expect you to allow them to crash at your place. Every time they decide to quit, your loved-one will want money for rehabilitation, medicine, etc. They say it is different this time. They are safe now, and they have Jesus, so they do not need rehabilitation. More of the same old lies—and we all too often fall for it!
The first step in breaking the bondage of this most destructive lifestyle is accepting the Truth, which is Jesus Christ. But, that is only the beginning. To find and walk in freedom, and to break the bondage of the destructive lifestyle, your loved-one will need intensive rehabilitation. One proven method of rehabilitation comes in the form of a highly structured discipleship program—Reformers Unanimous is one of the world leaders in providing this service. Whether it’s attending a local chapter in the area or enrolling in the Men's or Women's Schools of Discipleship (in Rockford, Illinois), Reformers is sure to be life-changing for any addict. Many addicts will take Jesus as their Savior and have nothing to do with Him in their daily life. You must insist that your loved-one enters into a recovery program through the Reformers Unanimous Program. Reformers will not allow your loved-one to deceive any longer. If your loved-one refuses to attend Reformers Unanimous and instead opts for an “easier, more comfortable” option, it is likely that he is deceiving you yet again.