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Addiction Symptoms: How to See Beyond the Denial

No one wants to believe their loved one has fallen victim to the disease of addiction. Denial protects us from acknowledging the reality of a situation. But denial is a double-edged sword. While it keeps negative thoughts at bay, it also allows the struggle of substance abuse to continue unabated. Seeing denial for what it is, enablement, is the first step toward recognizing the signs of addiction in our loved ones and working to get them help. In this blog, we'll delve into the symptoms of addiction and explore strategies to break through denial.


Understanding the Symptoms of Addiction


Signs of addiction can manifest physically, psychologically, and socially. Knowing the symptoms of addiction is how you start to overcome denial.

Physical Symptoms:

  • Changes in appetite, unexplained weight loss or gain
  • Insomnia/irregular sleep patterns
  • Tremors, seizures, or other physical signs of withdrawal
  • Neglect of personal hygiene and appearance

Psychological Symptoms:

  • Obsession with obtaining and using the substance
  • Mood swings, irritability, paranoia, apathy
  • Difficulty concentrating or maintaining focus
  • Anxiety, depression, or other underlying mental health issues exacerbated by substance abuse

Social Symptoms:

  • Withdrawal from family, friends, and social activities
  • Decline in performance at work or school
  • Legal or financial problems related to substance abuse
  • Continued substance use despite negative consequences


Breaking Through Denial


Helping a loved one see through their denial can be a daunting task. With persistence, education, and support, it is possible. 

Education & Awareness:

Understanding the disease model of addiction can help your loved one recognize they have a problem that won’t get better on its own and requires attention. Educate them on the long and short-term effects of addiction on the brain and body

Encouraging Honest Self-Reflection:

Addiction is often the result of wanting to suppress thoughts or feelings. Encouraging someone who is struggling to reflect on their behavior and its consequences from an honest perspective may be the wake-up call they need. Make sure to do this in a safe space such as with a therapist or support group. Introspective self-exploration can be a tough place to navigate and should be done with support. 

Confronting Excuses & Rationalizations:

Challenge excuses and rationalizations that your loved one uses to justify their substance abuse. Help them recognize that these excuses only serve to perpetuate the cycle of addiction.

Seeking Support:

Reach out for support from friends, family, or professional counselors. Supportive relationships can provide encouragement and accountability during the early days of the recovery process.

Embracing Change:

Share that recovery is a journey of growth and change. Emphasize the benefits of sobriety and help them set realistic goals for the future. We all need goals to strive towards. What’s the point of changing if there’s nothing better to look forward to?


Start the Journey


Understanding the signs of addiction and confronting denial head-on, you can take control of your life and the life of your loved one and start the path to recovery. If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, call Holland Pathways today. Don't let denial hold you back from seeking the support and guidance you need to live a fulfilling life.