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How to Respond to Denial during an InterventionA person must want to get sober before treatment can be effective. Drugs addicts often deny the severity of their problem or that they have a problem at all. Denial is often the biggest obstacle standing between the addict and recovery. Once the addict can see the extent of his or her problem and recognize the need for treatment, it becomes simple to reach out for and accept help.

Strategies for a Successful Addiction Intervention

The best asset in an intervention is a professional interventionist. A professional interventionist with a good success record will have training and experience conducting interventions and dealing with addictive behavior. Family members who attempt to conduct an intervention on their own are often too emotionally involved to remain objective. Interventions may become tense and confrontational and result in alienation and the shutting down of lines of communication, if there isn’t an objective interventionist present.

Every individual is unique and the circumstances of every individual addict’s addiction are unique. Addiction interventions must be designed with the individual in mind. Different people respond to different approaches, and a professional interventionist can help determine the best way to confront a love one. Any conversation with an addict should involve treating the person with respect, demonstrating your concern for his or her well-being and avoiding being judgmental or placing blame. Remember that the person will naturally feel “put on the spot” and is likely to become defensive when approached about addiction.

Overcoming Addiction Denial

During an intervention friends and family will tell the addict how the addiction has affected their lives. People respond better to “I” statements than to “you” statements. Saying, “I felt hurt when you missed my birthday party” is much better than saying, “How could you miss my birthday party?” The addict can respond to the second statement by justifying why he or she missed the party, but they cannot argue with the first statement and the fact that you felt hurt. This approach is less likely to cause an individual to become defensive and is more likely to allow him or her to see addiction from the other person’s point of view. While emotional appeals can be important, many people will also respond positively to appeals to their reason. Listing concrete examples of the consequences of their addictive behavior can go a long way toward breaking down the wall of denial.

One approach that may be effective in overcoming denial is to ask the person to submit to an assessment by a drug addiction specialist. If they really are not addicted as they claim, then the assessment will say just that. If the assessment indicates that they are addicted, it will carry much more weight than just the opinions of family members. A professional interventionist can help arrange an addiction assessment.

Help an Addicted Friend or Family Member

If you have questions about your loved one’s addiction or denial or are ready to plan an intervention or arrange treatment, call our toll-free helpline. We are here 24 hours a day and can provide information and resources so that you can help your friend or family member find a healthy sober life.