Everyone always thinks that once a person “admits they have a problem” then they will automatically start getting better.

Unfortunately, it just doesn’t work like that.  Let’s start with “admitting they have a problem.”

Coming out of denial actually happens in stages.  It is not like all the sudden the light bulb comes on and it’s all good.  This is a much more gradual process.  Usually a person begins to see that they have some problems and stressors but they don’t connect this with their use/drinking.  For example they may think, “my boss is always on my case,” “my wife is uber critical and I can’t ever please her,”  or “my anxiety is really bad these days.”  Although, it may seem clear to everyone else that these things are the result of the person’s drinking/using, the person will focus on the external problem and resist making that connection.

In the next phase of “coming out of denial,” the person may say things like “I am a problem drinker” or identify themselves as a heavy drinker, but not go so far as to think of themselves as a full on alcoholic.  Trust me, people and their families will call it ANYTHING else before they think it is addiction/alcoholism.  They would much rather believe it is bipolar disorder or schizophrenia rather than a substance use disorder. To understand the Biology of the Disease of Addiction consider our online courses.  During this stage they may try to cut back on their use, but it is unlikely that they will think they need to stop altogether.