You may have heard the saying, "Denial is not a river in Egypt." It may seem flippant, but it reminds us not only how common denial is, but how easy it is not to even recognize it as such.
When a parent or teen is in denial about addiction, it is for a reason. Below are some of the main motivations for denial and how you can challenge any beliefs that might prevent your child from getting into recovery.
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Guilt: Blaming yourself for your child's problems is counterproductive. Maybe indeed you worked long hours, let the child roam without supervision, or made a few mistakes here and there. What parent hasn't regretted some decisions they have made? The important thing to remember is that addiction is a disease. Even children growing up in the most disciplined and happy of homes can develop an addiction. There is no point in blaming yourself or your child for the sickness as this will only interfere with recovery.
Embarrassment: What will the neighbors think? If your child gets help and ends up on the road to recovery, this will be moot. If your child continues to spiral out of control and ends up overdosing or incarcerated that can be a far greater embarrassment.
Not MY Child: This form of denial can allow parents to completely disregard, ignore, and turn a blind eye to obvious signs of addiction. Writing off a serious alcohol or drug problem as "teens-will-be-teens" behavior can have tragic consequences. Your A+ honor's student is not necessarily immune to drug or alcohol addiction. And those A's may soon disappear as the disease progresses.
A Teen's Denial
"My parents don't get it. They just criticize everything I do. I can't do anything right. I hate my life. My friends are the only ones who care about me. So we get high once and a while. Big deal. We gotta do something to take the edge off. I can't tell you how good it is to just have everything bad disappear. My teachers pressuring us with homework, my mom saying she hates my clothes and my friends, my dad trying to talk me into going to pre-law at the college he went to. Most of the time I wake up and wish I didn't have to. That first toke when I get to school just makes me feel okay. I've been smoking pot for four years and I still get good grades, so who cares? I only drink beer, and only on the weekends. My friends laugh because I can drink all the boys under the table. They are such lightweights. Sometimes I do forget what I did, but what's the big deal? That's the idea! Who wants to remember every nasty thing other girls say to you. Who wants to remember the guy you like kissing that stupid girl who thinks she all that. Everything would have been just fine if I hadn't got caught driving. They make such a big deal out of it. Lots of people drive drunk. That doesn't mean I have a problem. I drive better when I've had a little pot cause I'm more relaxed. I hate how judge mental everybody is. My mom takes Xanax so how's that any different? It's their fault I feel this way. They think it's their job to fix me. But I don't need to be fixed. I need to be left alone."