What You Need to Know about an Addict in Denial

Addict in denial and fighting with wife

If there’s one comment I get from families on a regular basis, it’s “he (or she) doesn’t think they have a problem so there’s really nothing I can do.

Family members commonly tell me that their loved one is in such denial of their problem that there’s absolutely no way that they’ll ever agree to help or that rehab will even work. This is a concept I really struggle with because, in my opinion, no addict is ever actually in denial that they have a major problem.

Addiction has a progression, just like most other conditions in life. When someone starts using drugs it goes from

This is fun.


I can stop when I want to, I just don’t want to right now.


I think I might have a problem.


I can’t stop.


I can’t stop, so I never will.

Most addicts have these exact realizations, so if that’s the case, how can an addict go into such extreme denial of their problem?

The answer: they can’t.

The denial that families run into when confronting a loved one about their drug use isn’t actually denial. It’s a way of protecting their addiction. There is no addict anywhere who is shooting, smoking, or snorting whatever their drug of choice is and not feeling somewhere in the depths of their soul that they’re doing something wrong. No addict steals from and lies to their family, loses jobs, and becomes a huge liability to everyone around them without feeling a trace of guilt, shame, or remorse. They’re still human. Addicts aren’t insentient monsters who destroy everything without a second thought.

Addict in denial of their problem

Addicts know what they’re doing is wrong, to some extent, and the denial they exclaim to their families is just an attempt to convince everyone else around them that they’re fine. And they’re not fine. Not at all. They just don’t know how to deal with life without using drugs, so the denial is a way the addict tries to protect their addiction and continue getting high. Remember, addicts will do absolutely anything necessary to protect their addiction to the point of making the family feel crazy for even proposing that they might have a problem. The addict can be blatantly getting high and the family who accuses them of doing so winds up finding themselves apologizing for even suggesting that there’s a elephant in the room.

That’s the cycle families across the nation find themselves in. They feel as though it’s a futile effort since their addict is in “denial.” Let me be completely clear; most addicts are not in denial; they just want to convince you that everything is okay to the point of bringing you to insanity. If you think your loved one who is shooting or smoking drugs doesn’t actually believe they have a problem, think again.

They know they do. You know they do. Don’t believe the words they’re saying and don’t be afraid to be completely unreasonable as a means of saving their lives.


Jason Good

Jason has been working in the field of addiction and recovery for over 10 years. Having been an addict himself he brings real-word experience to the table when helping addicts and their families, while also offering a first-person perspective to the current drug crisis. Jason is passionate about educating the public about what’s currently going on in our society, and thankfully, offers practical solutions. Jason is also the co-host of The Addiction Podcast—Point of No Return. You can follow Jason on Google+, Twitter, or connect with him on LinkedIn.