Emotional and Mental
Denial and Substance Use: Get Help to Beat BothPublished: Oct. 22, 2023
Many people can be dependent on a substance and not show any problems. They’re successful students and professionals. They watch their weight and go to the gym. Then they go home and have four martinis or two bottles of wine every night and refuse to accept or believe there’s anything wrong with that. It’s a facade for coping with stressful days.
Substance Use and Stress
Culturally, substances like alcohol are a common antidote for stress. When stress becomes increasingly unmanageable or interferes with work, alcohol may be used to bring relief. This relief is soothing and desirable. The individual may think there’s nothing wrong because they’re functioning just fine. But before too long, they find themselves in the throes of addiction and in denial.
Signs of Denial
Verywellmind.com lists the following behaviors as common signs of denial. The individual:
- avoids thinking about the problem
- blames other people or outside forces for causing the problem
- finds ways to justify behavior
- persists in a behavior despite negative consequences
- promises to address the problem in the future
- refuses to talk about the problem
In addition to these signs, the individual might feel hopeless or helpless. On some level, they know there’s a problem that needs to be addressed, but they feel that nothing they do or say will make a difference.
Causes of Denial
Most commonly, anxiety, insecurity and a fear of accepting something that’s overwhelming can bring about denial. Coupled with events or experiences that are threatening or scary, emotions are shoved to the side – and coping mechanisms, such as the use of alcohol or another substance, are initiated to help soothe emotions.
Feeling Out of Control
Eventually, denial of substance use leads to loss of control. The individual is no longer able to predict when they’ll stop, how much or how long they’ll consume, or how they’ll behave. This is a very serious time, as their addiction has completely consumed them.
Stopping substance use even while knowing the risks and consequences just isn’t an option to many of those who are substance dependent. Rational thinking is out of the question, as they’d rather take a chance on losing their job, family, friends and personal integrity. But it doesn’t have to be this way.
Overcoming denial is possible. An individual’s integrity and personal and professional relationships deserve to be saved. Even when alcohol has taken control and seems all-consuming, it’s never too late to seek help. Supportive intervention is necessary, and Best Care EAP licensed counselors can help. To schedule an appointment with a licensed counselor, complete our Counseling Registration Packet. If you have issues with the form, please call Best Care EAP at (402) 354-8000 or (800) 801-4182 and we'll be glad to help. For additional information on mental health and well-being topics, visit our Resource Hub.