Types of Addiction Denial

People who suffer from an addiction are often not aware of what's happening to them. Learn about the types of addiction denial.
Types of Addiction Denial
Leonardo Biolatto

Written and verified by the doctor Leonardo Biolatto.

Last update: 27 May, 2022

Addiction denial is one of the most common problems with people who are suffering from this problem. In fact, family, friends and partners often need to pressure the addict into getting help. This is because they don’t think anything bad is going to happen. It’s important to know the different types of addiction denial, and we’ll share them with you in this article.

This process, although very frustrating, has a positive side: once the patient realizes their situation and accepts it, they’ll be ready to start rehabilitation.

It’s important to note that being an addict doesn’t have to do with just drugs. There are people with addiction problems related to work, gambling, or eating.

Therefore, we’re going to delve into the subject and share some basic aspects of addiction denial.

Types of addiction denial

Man with drugs.

Addicts express their denial in different ways; there’s more to it than just having a false view of reality. It’s far more complex than we can imagine and that’s why dealing with dependencies is so difficult. 

Here are some types of addiction denial:

  • Simple denial: This is the easiest type to identify. It includes denying the existence of the negative consequences that addiction has on daily life.
  • Justification: By justifying it, the addict finds an argumentative explanation for the addiction. Based on facts or situations, they convince themselves that dependency is the only way.
  • Rationalization: Hand in hand with justification, this consists of arguing that dependency is logical, when it’s not.
  • Minimization: This basically downplays the negative consequences of addiction, as if they don’t have the real impact that they do.
  • Futurization: This is the denial of being able to escape your addiction. The addict sees the future as a way of not having to think about or analyze the present. They think they’ll never be able to escape their addiction.
  • Projection: This type of addiction denial is well explained by psychological science. To project is to attribute our own negative issues to a third party. We transfer one problem to another.

Keep reading: Nomophobia: Cellphone Addiction

Denial among family

The addict isn’t the only one who suffers from denial. Often, their family and inner circle will also go through a period where they’re denying reality. This makes it even more difficult for the addict to seek treatment. 
Every family with an addict becomes dysfunctional. Family balance is changed and roles are broken. As a result, according to this study by a team from the University of Costa Rica, family ties are at risk of coming undone.

As a result, the family becomes dysfunctional. It may be because the relatives don’t understand the disease, and they’re feeling love and hate towards the addict at the same time. Then, as a result of all the confusion, communication is cut off and words that should be spoken are left unsaid. 

How to approach addiction denial

Person in therapy.

Addiction denial isn’t something that only happens before detoxification treatment. Instead, it lasts for almost the addict’s entire life, like a ghost that’s haunting them. 

Sometimes, the passing of time and the spiral of negative consequences can lead to the addict recognizing their problem. However, these are extreme situations and can lead to the person not getting treatment early on. 

To avoid reaching those extremes, there are alternatives:

  • Psychotherapy: These sessions are part of the accompanying detoxification process. Psychologists have tools to try to reverse the denial.
  • Behavior log: For addicts who have already started detox, a journal can be helpful. They use it to reflect on their everyday situations. Then, they analyze where the denial stems from.
  • Health education: Talks, brochures, advertisements, events that visualize addiction can help people realize that they need to rethink their behavior. In fact, that reframing can be the first step out of denial.

Hiding is never the solution

Often, the addict may be afraid and will use their denial to avoid facing the situation they’re in. Their self-esteem is damaged and they think that it’ll improve if they escape from reality. However, we know that’s not true.

The most important thing addicts need is support. We should give them all the understanding, respect, and support that we can. It’ll be difficult, but it’s possible for them to recover and overcome their problem. However, we have to keep in mind that the patient also needs to do their part and use the tools they’ve been given.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Deutsch, Roland, and Fritz Strack. “Reflective and impulsive determinants of addictive behavior.” Handbook of implicit cognition and addiction 16 (2006): 45-57.
  • Olson, Erin. “Seeing the Faces of Opioid Addiction.” (2019).
  • Pereira T. Neurobiología de las adicciones. Revista de Psiquiatría del Uruguay, 2009, 73 (1): 9:24.
  • Valverde Obando, Luis Alberto., Pochet Coronado, José Francisco. (2003). Drogadicción: los hijos de la negación. https://www.redalyc.org/pdf/153/15309904.pdf

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.