Shoreline Sober Living, San Diego, CA
Signs of Denial in an Addict

Denial is a standard hallmark characteristic that is associated with addiction. With nearly 1 in 10 Americans suffering from a form of substance abuse, whether that is through prescription medication, illicit drugs, or alcohol, many abusers refuse to see that they have a problem and require help.

Addicts are usually the last person to see or comprehend that they have an addiction problem; this is typically due to the individual completely hiding when abusing. They are unaware that they are visually showing typical signs of addiction to loved ones around them.

The addict will wholly believe that they have kept their addiction a secret which blinds them from seeing physical changes throughout their body and appearance and any form of behavior change.

Definition of denial

Denial is a specific defense mechanism use widely by many addicts to avoid coming to terms with their addiction. Denial is a mental state that allows individuals facing complex issues within their lives to prevent them from making any irrational decisions. Their ego and pride are ‘safeguarded’ against the addiction. If the individual was to come to terms with their ongoing problem, it could cause a complete mental breakdown, potentially leading to the addict spiraling.

The mental state of denial only extends the suffering that the individual will ultimately have to face when they chose to become sober. The mental state blocks any meaningful attempt at recovery from getting even the slightest bit off the ground.

Learning to recognize the signs of denial when it comes to an addict will help you communicate with them and understand that they need help. The first sign that you should be aware of is ‘avoidance.’


If you have a family member, friend, colleague, or loved one that you know is an addict, you would most likely have heard the phrases:

‘I can quit whenever I please.’ or ‘I am still in control.’

Avoidance means that the individual at hand is outright refusing to believe that they have a problem, no matter how many people may tell them that they are concerned about their wellbeing. Addicts who still manage to go to school, work, provide for their family, keep their finances in order, etc., will convince themselves that because their lives are still intact, they simply do not have a problem.

Avoidance is the most common sign when it comes to individuals who are addicted to illicit substances. It is a further challenge for the addict’s loved ones to bring up such a sensitive subject when they become worried. Many families will try multiple times to have a family intervention hoping that eventually, the individual will see that they have a problem and want to get help.


Lying is a sign that is heavily associated with avoidance. However, a common tactic with addicts is that they will often believe their lies, unlike a mentally healthy person who can distinguish between when they speak the truth and falsehood. An addict will retrain their brain to believe their lies.

Addicts will very often outright deny that they use illegal substances or minimize the extent of the problem. If you hear an addict saying the phrase ‘This will be the last time’ or Just one more’ they often believe that this will be the last time they will abuse. However, it isn’t that easy when it comes to addiction.

If you believe a loved one has been lying to you about the extent of their addiction or addiction as a whole, there is likely a pattern within the way they lie and the full extent of their addiction.


Addicts will often resort to manipulative behaviors to get family members or friends off their backs, hide their addiction, or acquire substances they need. For example, if a loved one decides to approach an addict with reliable information about the abuse, the addict will turn the entire situation around on the family member. Usually, the family member will walk away feeling guilty and upset for even attempting to speak to the addict about their problem.

If you believe your loved one has been displaying signs of manipulative behaviors, there is a high possibility they are an addict.


With addiction, the individual will regularly not own up to any consequences that the addiction may be caused, such as random aggressive behavior to a loved one. Instead, they will blame others, life events, situations, or possible living conditions for why they abuse illicit substances.

It is common for an addict to say phrases such as “If you had my job, career, life, family or relationship, you would use drugs too.” This is a common phrase that allows the addict not to feel guilty if they are to act out to continue abusing out without feeling guilty.

Rationalising their substance abuse

An addict rationalizing their substance abuse is viewed similarly to the individual shifting the blame. By finding reasons for the addiction, addicts will reiterate that it is okay for them to continue their substance abuse without feeling guilty.

Refusing any form of help

An addict who outright refuses help will mentally be in complete denial of their addiction or their ability to become drug-free on their own.

Unfortunately, you can never force someone to receive help if they do not want it or are not mentally in the right place to become sober. Recovery relies on the individual seeing that they have a problem and actively getting on the road of recovery.

However, you can help or encourage an addict to visit a rehabilitation center where medical professionals would have the opportunity to speak to them.

Breakthrough denial

No matter how far in denial an addict is, there is always the opportunity to break out of that specific mental state and to join the road to recovery. However, the recovery process requires total commitment from the addict; thousands of individuals have successfully admitted that they are in denial about their addiction and broken free.

Need a sober living home in San Diego?
Call us today:

If you or a loved one needs help to escape addiction, give Shoreline Sober Living a call.