Denial is the primary mechanism by which drug addiction, alcoholism and relapse are maintained, prolonged and worsened. In fact, some have questioned whether outright addiction could exist at all if not for a state of denial. However, denial appears to be an inseparable part of addiction and therefore must be understood in order to treat it effectively for the lifetime of the sufferer. The SRE records numbers of standard drinks required for up to four effects including a first effect, feeling dizzy or slurring speech, unstable standing, and unplanned falling asleep. SRE-5 scores for the first five times of drinking and is generated by the total drinks in that period needed across effects divided by the number of effects endorsed. SRE-T scores reflect the average across first five, heaviest drinking period, and recent 3-month drinking.

Alcoholism and Denial

Certain traits, such as independence and perfectionism, can add to a person’s hesitancy or reticence to seek help, says Grawert. There are empathetic, actionable ways to support someone with an alcohol use disorder who may be stuck in denial. Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles.

Living with a High-Functioning Alcoholic: Signs and Support

By doing these things, family and friends are protecting the alcoholic from the consequences of his actions. The alcoholic never experiences the pain caused by his drinking. It’s as if they are putting pillows under him and he is never hurt by his fall.

What are 3 psychological effects of alcohol?

Alcohol abuse can cause signs and symptoms of depression, anxiety, psychosis, and antisocial behavior, both during intoxication and during withdrawal. At times, these symptoms and signs cluster, last for weeks, and mimic frank psychiatric disorders (i.e., are alcohol–induced syndromes).

People with AUD may have difficulties with insight, working memory, complex thought, and problem solving. In this post, we’ll discuss how and why denial happens, its role in addiction, common signs, and how to help someone who may be in denial. Ria Health offers several FDA-approved medications for alcohol use disorder. When combined with counseling, this approach is proven highly effective. Excessive drinking has numerous impacts on your body and mind, ranging from mild to severe. Learn which signs to look out for, and how to care for your well-being. Asking more specific questions about alcohol problems is likely to improve the identification of individuals with AUDs.

What Is a High-Functioning Alcoholic?

When a loved one is engaged in alcohol abuse, watching them spiral out of control can cause inner conflict for friends and family members. It’s not about simply being blind to the negative consequences of Alcoholism and Denial drinking or using drugs. In fact, many people with addictions are well aware of the problems substance abuse is causing them. Learn about the types of addiction denial and the purposes denial serves.

Alcoholism and Denial

Research shows that people with alcohol use disorder often downplay the severity of their drinking. Having this conversation may feel daunting, but it’s an important step. Your loved one needs to be reminded that people care for them and want what’s best for them.

Overcoming Stage Three Denial

Verywell Mind articles are reviewed by board-certified physicians and mental healthcare professionals. Medical Reviewers confirm the content is thorough and accurate, reflecting the latest evidence-based research. Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates.

  • I can remember years ago when I was confronted about my own drinking problem by loved ones, close friends, and my employer.
  • If your loved one is in denial or doesn’t want to seek treatment, they’re not alone.
  • Alcohol use disorder, also called alcoholism, is a complex condition.
  • This pattern of denial indicates that greater efforts need to be made to educate our patients and our colleagues regarding what an AUD is and how serious the prognosis can be.
  • Stress, obligations, trauma, abuse, or any other number of negative circumstances can seem like an acceptable reason to pick up a bottle or have a drink.

Enabling includes anything that you do for the alcoholic that they can do for themselves but don’t because of their drinking. Watching someone you love struggle with addiction is devastating. You can love them, provide emotional support, and help them get into treatment when they’re ready, but they have to want sobriety, or at least find that desire once they’re in treatment. Many people enter an addiction treatment center when they can no longer avoid the consequences of their drug and alcohol use. For people who don’t think their addictive behaviors are a problem, they may be experiencing confirmation bias. This is the tendency to filter out any information that contradicts your beliefs and is usually unconscious. It’s a form of self-deception that allows you to stay active in your addiction by downplaying or ignoring negative consequences.

Intervention Help

Sometimes, it may be easier for your loved one with alcohol use disorder to avoid talking about it completely. When you bring up drinking around someone living with alcohol use disorder, they may act as though your concerns are trivial. When you’re worried about being judged or confronted about something, honesty can take a back seat.

  • People can have a varied reaction and tolerance to alcohol and that doesn’t necessarily mean they are alcoholics.
  • Be aware of the common forms of denial, and consider whether they are familiar to you.
  • It is important to understand that good intentions in treatment do not guarantee program action after discharge.
  • Regression analyses indicated deniers evidenced less intense alcohol and drug-related problems and identified DSM-IV criterion items that they were most likely to deny.
  • If you think someone you know is in denial about living with alcohol use disorder, there are ways you can help them.

“In some families, drinking too much is seen as comical, not a big deal, or a must during celebrations,” she adds. Consequently, many people may not realize their drinking has become a genuine problem. “For starters, the media, our workplaces, and many social circles normalize drinking to excess,” says Ruby Mehta, a clinical social worker and director of clinical operations at Tempest. What might look like denial may actually be a lot more complicated and multilayered for people with high-functioning AUD. Honesty is often the first thing to go in the course of alcohol use disorder. Buddy T is an anonymous writer and founding member of the Online Al-Anon Outreach Committee with decades of experience writing about alcoholism. If you feel that any of our content is inaccurate, out-of-date, or otherwise questionable, please contact at

Whether you’re aware of it or not, alcohol or drug abuse is the way you’re coping with overwhelming emotions or situations that you don’t feel ready to explore. When someone is addicted, their senses of logic and reason are distorted. Instead of making it easy for your loved one to continue living with the addiction, require them to take responsibility for themselves.