What to Say to an Addict in Denial that Will Motivate Them to Get Clean

Learn the what to say to an addict in denial and how to get them help.

When we witness a loved one struggling with addition, it is unbearable to stand idly by feeling helpless. There are effective ways to communicate with an addict who is in denial about their addiction. For many who wonder how to convince an addict to get help, there are approaches that have proven to be successful. While speaking to an addict about their drug or alcohol addiction may often feel like you are speaking directly to a brick wall, there are ways to reach them and convince them to get clean. Breaking through to an addict in denial does not happen overnight, however. It takes persistence and the belief that nobody is a lost cause. This article explores what to say to an addict in denial when the addict refuses to recognize his or her addiction. Here are typical signs of an addict in denial:

  • An addict in denial will have a steady stream of excuses ready. He or she will claim to drink alcohol because they are under stress, or make statements like, “I wouldn’t have to take these pills if it wasn’t for this reason or that reason.” The list of excuses will go on and on.
  • Addicts will blame their problems on external factors that will allow them to justify their need to abuse drugs or alcohol. An example of this would be when you are told, “I will get clean when this happens” or “I wont need to take Xanax anymore once I find employment” from an addict. By finding reasons for their substance abuse, addicts are able to convince themselves that their substance abuse is normal or justifiable.
  • It’s difficult to know how to convince an addict to get help when they avoid the fact that they have an addiction all together. They will typically redirect a conversation about their addiction or simply leave during a conversation they don’t want to participate in. Addicts who avoid the reality of their addiction are often known to say things like, “I can quit anytime I want.”
  • Telling lies. An addict will lie about their substance abuse, about staying clean, where they have been, or what they have been doing. There is almost nothing an addict won’t lie about. Addicts often become secretive and lie out of feeling ashamed or guilty. They will hide drug paraphernalia or pill bottles and will typically use when they are alone. This behavior becomes habitual for most addicts. It can be frustrating to figure out what to say to an addict in denial when you don’t know what they have been telling you is the truth or a bunch of lies.
  • Refusal to get help. How to convince an addict to get help when they flat out refuse it? Unfortunately, it isn’t possible to make someone get help who isn’t ready to receive it. Recovery depends a lot on a personal desire to get well. However, you can offer to accompany them to a rehabilitation clinic where they can seek behavioral or cognitive therapies that can assist in motivating them to want to get clean if they are agreeable.

It’s difficult to know what to say to an addict in denial that will inspire them to get help. Once you are familiar with the signs of an addict in denial, you will understand that the best approach is a positive one. Focus on reminding them how loved they are, how their family and friends are there to support them and be there for them every step of the way when they are ready to seek help. It is not wise to confront an addict in a hostile way, or make them feel guilty or ashamed of their behavior. This approach will not be productive.

Become familiar with the signs of an addict in denial, educate yourself on the facts of drug an alcohol addiction, and don’t lose hope. Facts about drug addiction symptoms can be found at Medical News Today.  Even if you don’t know how to convince an addict to get help, your persistence may eventually pay off.  When you don’t know exactly what to say to an addict in denial, letting them know you are concerned about them and available to help will go a long way in planting the seeds of recovery.

If you or a loved one needs help with abuse and/or treatment, please call the WhiteSands Treatment at (877) 855-3470. Our addiction specialists can assess your recovery needs and help you get the addiction treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.

About the Author

is a proud alumni member of WhiteSands Treatment. After living a life of chaos, destruction and constant let downs, Mark was able to make a complete turnaround that sparked a new way of life. He is serious about his recovery along with helping others. At WhiteSands Treatment, we offer support to you in your homes or when you are out living in your daily lives.