Mythbusting: Why people resist alcohol treatment

In a prior post, we shared some questions to help assess whether you or a loved one might have an alcohol addiction.  But once denial is out of the picture and someone realizes that they have a problem with alcohol, many people still resist getting help.  In fact, although an estimated 25 million Americans struggle with addiction, less than 10% of them will seek treatment.

Here are some of the most common objections we hear when people come close—but don’t actually commit—to getting help for an alcohol issue.  Spoiler alert: none of them are valid reasons to delay getting on the road to recovery.

“I can do it on my own.”
Self-efficacy—your belief in your capacity to succeed­ at accomplishing something—is a great thing when it comes to achieving goals.  In fact, it is probably why you have been successful in work, sports, and challenges in life.  However, it can also be a serious stumbling block for someone struggling under the power of an addiction.  The notion of self-efficacy is especially strong for high achievers battling alcoholism—they’re accustomed to feeling capable and in control. We often believe we can ‘out think’ or ‘out run’ an addiction without any outside help.  The reality:  except in rare cases, going it alone to treat an addiction usually doesn’t work.

“I can’t stop working/taking care of my family to get help.”
Getting treatment for addiction doesn’t always mean that you’re going away and checking into a residential facility. ‘Rehab’ isn’t the only—or the best—approach for everyone with an alcohol issue. Your daily routine doesn’t necessarily have to come to a halt.  Effective alcoholism treatment can take many forms, such as at-home support or a hybrid approach combining counseling and lifestyle changes.  This is what our ‘Treatment in the Midst of Life’ philosophy is all about—being alongside you to make positive changes within your unique environment.

“I can’t afford treatment.”
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to treatment, and with the right guidance from a reputable professional, everyone should be able to find a treatment approach that fits their budget.  Plus, when you consider the financial alternative to letting a serious addiction spiral out of control, even ‘pricey’ treatment starts to look like a bargain.  Think about it.  Divorces and custody battles are expensive. DUI convictions are expensive.  Doctor visits for alcohol related physical problems are expensive.  Actually, I’m not sure you can afford to keep drinking the way you do.

“I’m not a ‘group therapy’ type of person.”
While support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous are excellent recovery outlets for many people, they’re not a ‘must’ for everyone in recovery.  One-on-one counseling is sometimes the best fit.   And once they are detoxed and have a clear head, even folks who previously swore they’d never be caught dead in an AA meeting develop a new appreciation for the support of a community.

“I’m ashamed/embarrassed.”
It can be frustrating to be unsuccessful in trying to quit something or to try to make a healthy change in life.  You feel two ways about it:  you enjoy certain elements and you really dislike others.  It’s frustrating to feel that way and can lead to feelings of sadness and shame when we act in ways we don’t want to.  That is often the power of an addiction.  And there’s no denying that a degree of stigma exists around addiction.  But fortunately, as more and more of our friends, neighbors and loved ones are joining celebrities to publicly share their stories of recovery, our society is starting to chip away at the unnecessary shame around addiction. Plus, the reality is that alcohol treatment can be as discreet as you want it to be.

“I’ll lose my job.”
You might.  You might also lose your job if your alcohol use continues to escalate out of control.  Legally speaking, your job shouldn’t be at risk (yes, key word: shouldn’t).  There are two pieces of federal legislation, the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Family Medical Leave Act, that guarantee that addicts and alcoholics who undergo treatment for substance abuse will be given the time they need to do so by their employers, and that their jobs will be secure when they return.  And again, some problems with alcohol don’t require “going away”.  There are other options.

Not convinced?  We believe that addiction treatment works.  And the unique way we do it may just surprise you and shatter a few more myths you might have about recovery. We encourage you to reach out to us to learn more.