Why “No” from an addict doesn’t mean no

November 14, 2022
Why “No” From an Addict doesn’t mean No

“No” from an active addict does not mean no. 

Let me first say I was the kind of kid that would ask my mom something, she would say no, and I just didn’t take that answer. I would ask again, I’d ask a different day, I’d ask in a different way. As a very little kid, I didn’t like no. 

Today, this disdain for no actually really works for me. It’s one of our top teaching principles. Let me explain why… 

Addiction goes to any length to protect itself. The way a person presents who is addicted to drug and alcohol addiction is by lying, denying, blaming, justifying, minimizing, rationalizing, and compartmentalizing.

Addiction is a master manipulator of the current situation—addiction does not take responsibility, it puts the blame onto others, it lies and denies, trying to keep itself hidden by minimizing and justifying itself. 

I teach families to learn how to interpret who is speaking—the addiction or their loved one? Is their loved one speaking through their addiction? Or are they speaking through the part of them (that might be really small) that is their soul, that is their essence, their true nature?

One is truth and one is a lie. 

Mostly, as the disease progresses, we’re listening to the addiction. 

If you knew that the addiction is a beast (which we know it is) trying to take you and your loved one over, you would respond differently.

I encourage you to pay close attention this week, if you’re hearing lying, denying and justifying…

Close your eyes for a moment or turn away just for a minute and say/think/remember, in your mind:

This is clearly the addiction speaking. 

Take a deep breath. 

Choose to not respond to the addiction. Don’t give it any air time. 

With an addicted mind, the desire to drink and use drugs completely takes over.

This obsession is stronger than your, or your loved one’s, desire for it to stop. 

Stay present in your truth, which is: it is not okay with you to be taken over by a beast. Under no circumstances is it okay with you that someone you love is being taken over by this force that is far greater than all of us put together. 

That’s what we’re doing at Tipping PointTM Recovery—getting families educated and strong. 

When families get educated on what to do, what not to do, what is helpful and what’s not helpful, it’s a game changer. 

Your loved one will change as a result of you changing how you respond.  

Take it from me, a recovering addict, no from an active addict does not mean no. Let me explain where I first got this.

I worked in the emergency room for two years on call with the police department. Any time someone experienced a non-fatal overdose, I would go to the ER to meet them. 

What was happening in this ER is what happens all around the country in most ER’s. The patient is asked a question. The wrong question. 

“Do you want help?” they would be asked.

The predominant answer? “NO!”

The question they were asking the patients at that moment was the wrong question. 

After a month of tears and frustration, I finally said to the chief of nursing,

“Ask a different question. No does not mean no in this situation. ‘I don’t want help’ is not true.”

None of us do not want help. 

We’re not going to tell you that because we are addicted!

From the moment most people arrive in the ER post overdose, the only thing on their mind is LEAVING. 

We are addicted! 

So instead, we need to ask questions that connect. Here’s the question that engaged 100% of the individuals we asked it to: 

“Would you like to speak to an addict in recovery?”

Every single person said yes. 

Addiction is a complex disorder. It’s not going anywhere. We either get better or we don’t. 

My suggestion to families that are really tired of beating their head against the wall is stop beating your head against the wall and start to do things differently. 

Get yourself on a recovery path to learn how to create an environment that is unwelcoming to addiction so you can help your loved one make some changes. 

Hopefully this was helpful. I’d love to hear from you in the comments. 

I want to help you interpret what you are hearing, receiving in text messages, so you can respond differently.  

Let me coach you. I’m happy to do that here in the comments. Tell me what you’re hearing and I’ll give you a different way to look at it one minute at a time. If you prefer privacy, email me here

You can create an entirely different relationship with your loved one built on connection and not adversity. You can do this.

Leave a Comment


  1. Joyce

    Thank you for your insight. I hard to not be negative when my love one has fallen off the bed, soiled himself and the sheets and begs for me to go to the liquor store at 2am and I won’t.

    • Kate Duffy

      Joyce, it is VERY hard not to be negative. And I want to make sure it is clear…we are not implying to just accept this. Quite the opposite. You should be upset. It’s what you do with your upset that can have the biggest impact both on you and on them. This is also not about getting someone to agree with you or like your decisions to not support alcoholism. Keep reading, keep listening, keep sharing your comments as it helps me teach you. You CAN rise above this frequency of addiction so both of you can end the cycle. Do you know about our training Stop the Chaos? It’s currently on sale. Sending strength, love and hope.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Posts


Subscribe to our newsletter

to never miss a post.