Denial as an Addiction
A recent television commercial by The Partnership at DrugFree.org focuses on the role of parental denial in their children’s addiction. The commercial is narrated by a teenage boy who is stealing his mother’s pain medication, while the mother interacts with her son but does not seem to take notice of the facts. The boy remarks that his mother is “addicted to denial” and uses denial like a drug. While the commercial may deliver a bit of hyperbole, the suggested intent is clearly communicated.
The sad fact of life is that confronting others is a hard and sometimes awkward thing to do. It is a situation we wish would “fix itself,” or “someday they’ll just get it.” While these sentiments are not all bad, they are self-serving and ultimately do NOT have a loved one’s best interest in mind. The hard truth and reality of addiction is that it affects the entire family, and the entire family, not just the user, needs help. The mother in the DrugFree.org commercial is planting seeds that will yield the thorny fruit of potential wreckage, alcoholism, drug abuse, and possibly even suicide or other horrendous and traumatic events.
Confronting Addictive Behavior
The right response by this mother would obviously be a confrontation with her son concerning missing pain pills or if he exhibited any intoxicating behavior for that matter. Too often when teenagers are found to use drugs and become intoxicated with their friends or while at parties, parents simply chalk this up to be rites of the passages of youth. Now while not all teenagers will end up in active addiction, desperately needing rehabilitative drug treatment, they all have the potential to.
This is not a call to alarm or even policing activity, but for parents to be aware of the propensity towards denial, especially when life gets busy and stressful. The fact is that by definition teenagers are not adults, and thus not endowed with the same capacity for responsibility. It is the parents who should be exemplifying this and more awareness with help more young people avoid the wreckage and devastation of drug addiction and alcohol abuse.
Back to the DrugFree.org commercial, there is an inverse analogy here as well; denial can be something as serious as the drug addictions your loved ones suffer from! An extension of this warning is the problem of denial in general, as it pertains to addicts themselves. For example; a post-operative patient struggling to manage the severe after effects can quickly become addicted to the different prescriptions drugs dispensed to deal with chronic pain, sleeplessness, anxiety, and a whole host of other physical and mental problems.
A common misconception is that treatment centers and rehabilitation facilities exist on for those in active addiction and know they are in active addiction. A person taking copious amounts of Oxycontin daily after a surgery that took place a year ago may see nothing wrong with their actions. Addiction afflicts all walks of life.
The good news here is that help is available to those who may be in denial! This is especially pertinent information to those legitimately taking prescribed medication for different ailments. Why not take a few minutes to take an objective look at yourself or with a loved one to see if you may be in denial about your addiction?