The first two of the four phases of recovery – denial and compliance are discussed in this chapter and strategies to deal with them are discussed. Both are defense strategies against shame and anxiety.
The forms of denial include: Stonewalling- an outright, flat denial of symptoms of abuse even when there are clear and obvious signs, Minimizing/maximizing- the abuse acknowledges use but minimizes his own problems and maximizes other’s problems, Distracting- blaming the abuse on every other problem in life, Justifying- similar to distraction, the abuser justifies the abuse with problems in his life, Challenging- is an attempt to put the accuser on the defensive when confronted, and Pseudo-choice- claiming that abusing is a choice and therefore the abuser can control it.
Strategies to deal with denial include educating the teens and parents about substance abuse and its negative effects, peer confrontation where the issues are confronted in a group since peers can be the most influential elements in a teen’s life, and chemical history-sharing where the teen chars his drug intake over a period of years. This helps to show the patterns of use, the progression and the feelings attached to the use and the incidents in life that can be related to the abuse. When the person is in compliance he accepts that he has a problem but does not accept the idea that he must give it up.
Three additional strategies to deal with compliance include self-assessment where the teen identifies his personal strengths, explores options available for the future and sets short-term goals, ego-development to reclaim the free-choice and decision-making abilities that the drug addiction destroyed and emotional expression where the teen is encouraged and counseled to identify and express his feelings since generally drugs are used to suppress feelings such as anxiety, grief, fear, loneliness and boredom.