Why Addicts Don’t Get Treatment & What You Can Do
If you’re in the beginning journey of addiction and recovery with your loved one, you may be in a state of panic as to how to broach the subject with the rest of your family and loved ones. How could your careful planning have resulted in something like this?
Feelings of shame and embarrassment are common among family and loved ones who have to weather the dredges of someone they love struggling with a substance use disorder; and those feelings are magnified threefold by those actually going through recovery.
What can we do to humanize addiction, and eliminate the stigma surrounding addiction recovery?
After all, when we’re sick, aren’t we supposed to go to the doctor?
Sizing Up Addiction
If you’re taking in all the jibberish out there revolving around addiction, and you’re accepting everything you hear as fact, like people with a substance use disorders are:
- Morally deficient
- Choosing to continue their addictive streaks
- Lack faith in God
- Incapable of recovery
you’re robbing yourself of the wonderful truth:
Addiction is a psychological & physical disease, like any other medical affliction, it can be treated and ultimately cured.
The medical industry has long since dubbed addiction a legitimate disease, with tangible physical effects on the brain’s chemistry. The top three precursors of developing a drug or alcohol use disorder (the technical term given by the CDC) are genetic dispositions to addiction (substance use disorders running through the family), environmental exposure to addictive substances, and the inability to cope with life’s challenges.
Addiction is not a result of a moral deficiency, and is certainly not a disorder without remedy. Simply put: addiction requires the trained hand of a professional, and a loving, compassionate, and empathetic support system of family and friends.
And that’s where you come in.
What Stops People from Going to Recovery?
As you can imagine, with the heavy stigma of addiction sweeping over most of the general public, it’s difficult for people to admit they need help, and even harder for them to actually get the treatment they need. Many are apt to name call and serve as barriers to treatment; some will insist treatment isn’t necessary. But it is.
Treatment can be as critical as breathing, literally.
The stigma surrounding addiction recovery often keeps people from seeking treatment. When someone is told they’re never going to amount to anything, this often turns into an abysmal self fulfilling prophecy. The fear of going through withdrawal stops many from seeking the help they desperately need. Because withdrawal is both physically and psychologically taxing, many abandon recovery altogether without the guidance of a recovery professional.
Ensuring your loved one recovers entirely from a drug or alcohol use disorder stems from your commitment to help encourage them through the thick of it, so knowing the barriers of recovery is essential in assisting your loved one to the best of your capabilities.
Many deterrents revolving recovery include:
- The anxiety of withdrawal
- Treatment costs
- Societal stigma surrounding addiction
- Lack of emotional support
- Absence of guidance
What You Need to Know for Them
This laundry list of hurdles are some things many across the entire nation battle when conquering addiction- and many succumb to these hurdles, and suffer the worst for it. In your case, there is absolutely something you can do about it.
1. Overcoming Withdrawal Anxiety
For many the travails of withdrawal are enough to keep one away from recovery for years to come. Before you attempt to comfort, or cajole your dearest to let go of their fears, put yourself in their shoes and imagine what it would be like to have to undergo a physically taxing process in the mid of coping with severe psychological anxiety, depression, and trauma.
Sucks, doesn’t it?
Having a clear understanding of what withdrawal is truly helps put everything in perspective, and gives you the vantage point you need to assist in the best way possible. During withdrawal the body, which has developed a physical addiction to one’s substance of choice, rebels against not having that presence any longer; this manifests physical symptoms akin to a severe flu.
In some cases withdrawal can be life threatening. The severity of withdrawal is derived from the amount of time addiction has persisted and varies from substance to substance. You can help mitigate the anxiety stemming from withdrawal by reinforcing the duration of withdrawal (about a week or so) is nothing in comparison to living years the slave to a substance use disorder.
Help your loved one understand withdrawal is simply a process we all must go through. (Do you remember that time you didn’t have coffee in the morning and you were grumpy?) The best medicine for withdrawal anxiety is the acceptance of it.
2. Mitigating Treatment Costs
Treatment costs leads many to believe they cannot possibly afford treatment- but there are many state rehabilitation centers which help render medical aid when necessary. Not to mention, many rehab centers take medicaid and other forms of government issued insurance!
If you haven’t looked into getting a sponsor for treatment, this may serve as an untapped avenue for covering treatment. Something that’s becoming more popular are crowdfunding sources like KickStarter and IndieGoGo. Taking this same concept into consideration, convincing your loved one to write honestly about their substance use disorder, and the struggles therein may encourage helpful benefactors to donate to your cause.
(Trust me, there have been much stranger things to grace IndieGoGo.)
3. Debunking the Stigma
The awful truth is that society often gets in the way of what should be second nature: if you’re sick, you go to the doctor- but when it comes to addiction, the public isn’t so forgiving, and that really cuts into one’s ability to A) reach out for help, and B) feel comfortable admitting they need help.
You have to break through these barriers at home, and making substance abuse and addiction safe to speak openly about at home. Reinforce this by going back to the basics: addiction is passed down by genetics and is made possible by environmental stimulus and exposure to addictive substances, and is rooted in one’s inability to cope with life’s many traumas.
4. Providing Emotional Support & Being a Beacon of Light
You are one of the most powerful tools in your loved one’s recovery arsenal. As long as you alwaysremain vigilant in encouraging your loved one to open up to you, the sky is the limit.
Sometimes you don’t need to speak- sometimes just being there is enough.
Most of us don’t have degrees in psychology- but you don’t need that to be effective. Addiction is the result of unresolved traumas, and if you’re an intimate member of the family, you probably have a role to play in all of that.
Always prompt recovery, but do so in a manner that encourages, as opposed to shames. Present recovery in the light of achieving goals and fulfilling life long aspirations.
Recovery is the stepping stone to all things wonderful, and you can help orchestrate it.
About the Author
Alexandrea Holder is a South Florida native working toward double Master’s degrees in Psychology and English. She finds the psychological aspects of addiction and mental illness fascinating, as both are prevalent in her family’s history. When not researching and spreading addiction awareness, Alexandrea enjoys sparring, artistic pursuits, and admiring puppies online.