The Dangers of Denial | When It’s Time to Seek Help

The Dangers of Denial | When It’s Time to Seek Help

dangers of denial

It’s easy to think that people who have a substance use disorder should just get help to overcome their addiction. When you are the one going through the addiction, however, it can be a struggle to even admit that you need that help. There are many physical and mental dangers of denial so it’s critical to understand when it’s time to seek help – and how to get it.

The Denial Reaction

Denial is a term that is used to describe a common reaction of people with substance use disorders who deny such an issue exists for them. It is a complex reaction that is the product of psychological and physiological factors, especially those concerned with memory and the influence of euphoria produced by the substance of abuse. If you are in denial, your reaction is generally not deliberate or willful but is rather a set of defenses and distortions in thinking caused by your use of drugs or alcohol. 

A Coping Mechanism

When you are in denial regarding your addiction, you might ignore the problem, minimize the concerns others in your life have about you, or even blame others for your issues. Denial can be a powerful coping mechanism for you, to delay facing the truth about your addiction. You don’t want to admit that you are struggling with drugs or alcohol, so denial allows you to make your reality more flattering to you.

In denial, while continuing to engage in addictive behavior, you may also resort to behaviors such as:

  • Minimizing: You act like others are blowing things out of proportion or exaggerating when they bring up your addiction. You may respond with statements such as “it’s not that bad” or “people do way more than I do.”
  • Rationalizing: You rationalize your addiction, saying you are stressed and need a little help getting through the day or that you earned a reward for your hard work.
  • Self-Deception: Self-deception is a powerful denial mechanism where you convince yourself that things aren’t that bad or as severe as they really are.

Dangers of Denial

Your continued denial can cause destructive consequences, from health issues to damaged relationships.

Denial distorts reality. When you deny your addiction, you are attempting to manipulate your loved ones into believing the same. Distorting reality is the addict’s way of ignoring the problem and as a result, the destruction and chaos continue.

Denial causes isolation. You may grow tired of your friends and loved ones confronting you about the substance abuse, so you may begin to pull away and seek out isolation. You may only choose to spend time with people who also abuse drugs or alcohol as a way to escape the ridicule, which only serves to make the situation worse.

Denial breeds codependent behaviors. As your friends and family members continually try to help you see your addiction problem, they may begin to develop codependent behaviors that are not healthy for you or for them. To truly help you, your loved ones may need to disconnect and let you experience the consequences of your decisions. This can be extremely difficult and painful, but it may eventually encourage you to seek help.

Time to Get the Help You Need

Your addiction is causing problems for your own life as well as for others. You are experiencing mental and physical health problems, as well as challenges at work and at home. You are suffering the dangers of denial but feel as though you are unable to stop using drugs or alcohol. The first step toward recovery is recognizing these problems.

Take a close look at your life. Do you recognize these symptoms of substance use disorder?

  • Impaired control: You have a craving or strong urge to use drugs or alcohol; you may have even had failed attempts to cut down or control your substance use.
  • Social problems: Your substance use causes failure to complete major tasks at work, school, or home; you have given up on or cut back on social, work, or leisure activities because of substance use.
  • Risky use: You use drugs or alcohol in risky settings; you continue to use despite knowing the problems it causes.
  • Drug effects: You are experiencing a tolerance for the drugs or alcohol, as you need larger amounts to get the same effect; you have withdrawal symptoms when you are not using these substances.

Your recovery process can be hindered when you deny having a problem. The dangers of denial are severe and sometimes tragic. Know that it is time to seek help.


At Sober Austin, we want you to find the resources you need to overcome your addiction and move forward with a successful recovery. We also understand that life can be even more challenging during the coronavirus pandemic. The dangers of denial are greater, though, so it’s important for you to know when it’s time to get help and how to get that help for your addiction. Browse our site to learn more about finding support in Austin. Please feel free to contact us directly by calling (512) 522-7135 or emailing