Drinking alcohol can be a fun activity, but when alcohol begins to be less of a fun activity and more of an addiction, something needs to change. One of the more popular alcoholic denial quotes is, “I don’t have a problem, I just like to have fun.” Despite this, if you are living with an alcoholic in denial then you know this is not the case.
Unfortunately, most people living with alcoholism are in denial that they have a disease. It might feel like a battle every day to try and force a closet drinker to admit they have a problem. Eventually, it leads to the need for making alcoholism recovery undeniable, but what is an alcoholic in denial and how can you tell if you are living with one? If this sounds like something you are dealing with, it is important to learn how to approach them and get them help.
Brief Definition Of Alcoholism
Also referred to as alcoholism, alcohol use disorder (AUD) is a medical condition. An AUD is characterized by the inability to stop or control alcohol use. There may be obvious negative social, health, and occupational effects. Despite this, typically an alcoholics will not care about this negative impact on their lives.
There are many different aspects of alcohol abuse such as alcohol dependence and addiction. Symptoms of an AUD can be mild, moderate, or severe. The main dangers of alcoholism, aside from sudden death, are the lasting changes in the brain. This can make it extremely difficult to stop using alcohol and can lead to other substance abuse as well.
Why Do Alcoholics Lie?
The main reason that alcoholics lie and are an alcoholic in denial is usually one of two main reasons.
- They do not wish to acknowledge their destructive behaviors
- They actually believe they do not have an alcohol problem
Typically someone with alcoholism is having negative impacts from their addiction on their health and life as a whole. Despite this, there are alcoholics with a type of alcoholism called functional alcoholism as well.
Who Has An Increased Risk For Alcoholism?
There are a few reasons why someone may be at an increased risk for alcoholism. For example, consuming more than 15 drinks per week for men or 12 drinks per week for women is known to lead to alcoholism. The same can be said regarding binge drinking.
Having low self-esteem or self-worth and high levels of stress are also linked to alcoholism. If you have a biological family member with alcoholism or drug addiction then you are more likely to develop alcoholism, as well as if you suffer from a mental health condition.
Conditions such as depression, bipolar disorder, and social anxiety are known to contribute to alcoholism. More than 40% of those with bipolar disorder and 20% of those suffering from depression are known to struggle with alcoholism.
Those with strong personalities are known to be more likely to develop alcoholism than other people with different personalities. Whether that is because they like to take risks or want to be the “life of the party” as a social drinker, this can lead to alcoholism. Additionally, someone who is incredibly shy may also suffer from alcoholism in order to avoid feeling awkward in social situations.
Alcoholism is known to be a disease that is passed down within genes. Unfortunately, some people may be predisposed to alcoholism due to their family having been alcoholics.
If you were once a heavy drinker then you have a higher likelihood of developing an alcohol use disorder. This is because alcohol rewires the brain and dependency occurs.
Signs And Features Of Alcoholic Denial
If you believe that you might be living with an alcoholic in denial it is essential that you take the time to look into their symptoms. Most alcoholics in denial are not willing to go to treatment while in denial. These are 10 signs of functioning alcoholic:
- They get irritable or get angry when not drinking
- Always need more to drink in order to get drunk
- They continue to drink regularly despite negative consequences
- Drinks heavily alone
- Drinks alcohol regardless of the situation and during times that are considered unacceptable, such as at a child’s birthday party, at work, or first thing in the morning.
- They miss out on things they used to love due to drinking habits
- Find excuses to have a drink
- Tries to play off drinking habits and downplay how much they actually drink
- They are secretive about drinking or their life in general
- Lie about how much they drink and hide alcohol in odd places
All of these signs are of a functioning alcoholic, but also of someone who is in denial. Either they are looking to cover up their alcoholism, or are simply an alcoholic in denial. Knowing these signs can help you to save the ones you love.
Different Types Of Alcoholics In Denial
There are a few different subtypes within the broad term of alcoholism. Alcoholics in denial may fall into one of these subtypes for various reasons. In many of these subtypes, the alcoholics may not even realize that they have a problem. This can make it harder to help the person identify it and get help.
- Young Adults: Around one-third of all alcoholics are young adults. This makes young adults the largest group out of all alcoholics. Young adults are considered to be between 19 and 24, which begins with early drinking and leads to early dependence. Unfortunately, it is most unlikely that someone from this group will get help because they are often in college where drinking heavily is normalized.
- Functional: Functioning alcoholism and denial go hand in hand. Functioning alcoholism is the act of being able to hold a job and social relationships while still being an alcoholic. This group makes up almost 20% of alcoholics and is known to be middle-aged on average. They usually begin drinking later in life but will develop dependence as they reach 40. Depression is common in this group, as well as tobacco usage. It is a predominantly male group as well.
- Intermediate Familial: Accounting for almost 19% of alcoholics, this group is known to begin drinking in high school and develop dependence by the age of 30. This group tends to have immediate family members with a history of alcoholism which may be a reason for their own alcoholism development. Many people within this group suffer from some type of mental illness or another substance other addiction.
- Young Antisocial: 21.1 of alcoholics are considered the young antisocial subtype. Those who fall in this group typically begin drinking very young, either 14 or 15. Usually, dependence occurs young as well, around age 18. 50%of people in this group suffer from an antisocial personality disorder and have very high rates of other mental illnesses. Another substance addiction is common as well.
- Chronic Severe: Although making up the smallest percentage of alcoholics, chronic severe alcoholics usually develop a dependence around 30, but start drinking at a young age. Almost always those within this subtype will have an immediate family member who suffers from alcoholism. Serious addiction and mental illness are common, and serious withdrawal symptoms will occur if they were to stop or reduce drinking.
How To Help An Alcoholic In Denial
You might wonder, why do alcoholics deny a problem? Typically an alcoholic won’t admit problems because they do not want to give up alcohol. This leads to hiding drinking as an alcoholic, and eventually trouble in other areas of their life. This is why an intervention is an important step to helping an alcoholic in denial.
What Is An Intervention?
If you have an alcoholic friend in denial an intervention may be the only way to help them. An intervention involves organizing an event with loved ones to confront someone who is addicted, about their addiction. The main goal of an intervention is to convince the alcoholic to go to the treatment of some kind.
When it comes to intervention for alcoholism, the intervention usually showcases, to the alcoholic, how their alcoholism has affected those around them. The intervention might involve family, friends, children, spouses, parents, colleagues, and even employers. It is the opportunity to tell the person that they care about them, but alcoholism is a huge issue in their life.
Approaching someone you love regarding their alcoholic behavior is much more difficult than it might seem, this is why it is always recommended to work with a professional. Interventions that are planned and developed with a professional intervention counselor usually have better results.
Getting Treatment For Alcoholism
Admitting alcoholism can be difficult but living with an alcoholic is much harder. Getting treatment for alcoholism may include various types of emotional therapy, as well as medical detox. If you or a loved one is an alcoholic in denial, contact the experienced team at Circle of Hope today to get more information regarding our programs and how we can help you get a safe, comfortable, journey into recovery from active alcoholism.