Denial plays a pivotal role in addiction, and it’s indicative of why addicts continue to cling onto their drug or alcohol addiction, regardless of the consequences that may come about. Denial is one of the biggest roadblocks that prevents awareness and early acknowledgement that classifies the first stage of addiction recovery. If your loved one is abusing any of these substances, they will likely want to avoid recognizing the issue for as long as possible. Many people believe they are strong, capable, and in control, but active denial will always paint a different picture. 

Coming to terms with addiction is the first of many steps in the journey of recovery. We realize it’s not going to be an easy process, but it’s not impossible. As a provider of addiction treatment, Southeast Addiction can help you discern these signs, which makes it easier to help your loved ones. Here are the signs of denial during addiction.

What Is Denial?

To kick it off, let’s take a look at the basic definition of the word denial. From a broader lens, denial is defined as refusal to admit the truth and a tendency to distort reality. When described in a psychological setting, the state of denial is viewed as a defense mechanism. The person will reject aspects of reality if it doesn’t align with their personal perception of the world. A good amount of people will participate in some form of denial over things that make them feel uncomfortable. 

For someone that is addicted to alcohol and drugs, the denial will take on a more rigid form. People that live in this state of denial are only continuing to extend their suffering, seeking to block any meaningful attempt at recovery. It may seem like hope is lost at times, but always remember to stay the course, and hopefully you can this person to eventually agree to addiction treatment.


Addicts will usually focus their ego or sense of self inwardly, or around the substance of their choosing. This results in behavioral shifts, further exacerbating that person’s need for self-importance. What comes of this? The answer is blame. Addiction will cause the addict to jump to irrational points of blame, citing that their problems stem from another person’s involvement. Tell us if this sounds familiar: “If you weren’t such a nuisance, maybe I wouldn’t drink.” 

You will never hear a non-addict make these statements, but for addicts, imparting blame on others is used in conjunction with avoidance. While some daily stressors from familial obligations and work can be a factor, it’s never a direct reason and should not be a reason that a person doesn’t seek addiction treatment, for when it becomes a serious issue.

Justifying Harmful Behavior

Non-addicts are aware of the effects of harmful behavior. Non-addicts are capable of showing remorse for their actions, and are willing to take the steps to move past it. However, when dealing with an addict, it’s easy for them to have blinders on when faced with the consequences of their erratic behavior. Should someone justify their harmful behavior, they are likely in denial of their habits. They will rationalize their actions, despite the harm it can bring to them and to others. You might hear them say things like–” It was just this one time” or “I’m doing it to cope with something!”. If any of these phrases are being uttered from someone in your life, it’s probable that they are justifying their harmful behavior.


Addicts will engage in denial by avoiding the fact that they have an issue. While immersed in these thought processes, he or she may walk out of conversations, change the subject when addiction comes up, avoid those in their inner circle, or they may pretend that they’re in control. Avoidance is one of the most common signs of denial, and it takes a great deal of effort to work around. At this stage, it could be helpful to stage an intervention. But if this isn’t an option, then perhaps the person will come around and own up to their problematic behaviors. Southeast’s programs for addiction treatment can equip patients with the necessary tools to cope and come to terms with the truth.


Lying is another common denial tactic. A healthy person understands the difference between deceit and honesty, but an addict may not. Their lying will include denial of substance abuse, denial of the magnitude of the issue, or they will minimize the extent of their issues and how frequent they use. Over time, addicts will begin to accept that this warped reality holds truth in their lives. It becomes easier to believe the lies they tell themselves and to others.

Comparing Behavior

Comparing behaviors to others for highlighting good things is always welcomed. Unfortunately, when addicts compare behavior, it’s for the wrong intent. In these cases, the addict will find someone who is using a lot (with a situation worse than theirs), and use that as a way to compare themselves. Phrases like “It could always be worse, at least I’m not like so-and-so.” The problem from rationalizing behavior, as we mentioned earlier, is that the person is actively ignoring their own problem.

Hiding The Addictions

Hiding substance abuse from your family and friends might entice the user to hide the addiction from themselves. This can include taking more medicine than what was prescribed, drinking in secret, consuming drugs or alcohol in a secretive manner, and so forth. These deceptive practices will continue to fuel the person’s addiction. But, what makes matters worse in these circumstances is, the person can easily lose track of how much they are using. Since they are deliberately hiding their substance abuse, they will maintain the idea that everything is fine, so long as no one finds out.

Manipulating Others

People will resort to manipulative behavior as a means of getting others to back off. For example, you might approach the addict with information on their substance abuse and how addiction treatment can remedy their sorrows. The response? The person can turn it around on you or another, continuing to exacerbate the severity of the manipulation. Manipulation can be frustrating and very hurtful, but it’s a telling sign that someone is working to rationalize their behavior by focusing on someone else or by creating a new problem. 

Seeking Addiction Treatment Atlanta GA

The disease of addiction has gotten a hold of many lives. We understand that taking the first step for recovery is no easy feat, but the outcome of success is what makes the trials and tribulations worth it. If you or a loved one is succumbing to an addiction, Southeast Addiction will provide addiction treatment through our diverse treatment programs. Contact us today to get started! We look forward to hearing from you soon! 

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