Afraid of Seeking Treatment? You’re Not Alone

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This entry was posted in Addiction & Recovery on .

Addiction often leaves you feeling hopeless and alone.

You’ve tried to stop using, but before too long your body can’t handle going without.

You know addiction is destroying you, but no matter how hard you try, or how many times you promise yourself you’ll stop, before long you’re back to old habits.

You hate it. It’s not what you want for yourself. What you want is to get out of the endless, destructive cycle and what it’s done to your life, but you just can’t stop.

You need help.

Yet seeking treatment can be terrifying. If this is your first time seeking treatment, you don’t know what to expect. It’s not like anything you’ve ever gone through before. If you’ve tried treatment in the past – without success – you may fear it won’t work this time either.

Pretty much everyone fears the unknown, and fear of seeking treatment is something almost all addicts experience. In 2017, data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) showed close to 21 million people needed treatment for a substance use disorder, but only 4 million received treatment.

That’s less than 1 in 5 – leaving millions of people without the help they need.

The fear is clearly real.

Why is Getting Help So Scary?

It seems counterintuitive.

Why would getting help be so scary? You know addiction has torn apart your life, harmed your health, and undermined your relationships. Why not embrace treatment and recovery with open arms?

There are several reasons you might fear getting treatment.

You Have to Confront Emotional Issues

Stopping your drug use means confronting the reasons you started using in the first place. Whatever those reasons, they were so overwhelming that you turned to alcohol or drugs rather than deal with them head on.

Emotional trauma can be devastating. Maybe you started using substances because you couldn’t get the help you needed to deal with a traumatic experience or emotional issues. In the past, negative cultural stigma prevented people from seeking treatment. You’d hear things like:

“Buck up! Pull yourself up by the bootstraps! Real men don’t cry! Get over it!”

But now more than ever, our society realizes that we need to support people struggling with mental health issues and addiction. In the past, insurance often limited or denied coverage for mental health treatment, but changes in federal and state laws over the past decade have made treatment more accessible for almost everyone. Communities impacted by the opioid crisis have developed affordable programs and made resources available to more people. Overall, there are far more options for people seeking treatment for mental health and substance use disorders than there were a decade ago.

That means this is a good time for you to try again – or try for the first time, if you’ve never sought treatment.

You Have to Give Up Your Addiction

Getting treatment means you have to stop drinking or using drugs. While part of you understands that your use is destructive, other parts of don’t want to let it go. Addiction rewires your brain: once you are addicted, cravings compel you to keep using despite the consequences. Chronic drug and alcohol use changes both your body and your mind. Fear of what it will take to overcome these fundamental changes creates one of the biggest obstacles to treatment.

Getting treatment also means giving up something that’s become a big part of your life. Addiction has become your primary coping mechanism. Getting treatment means losing a coping mechanism that’s become second nature. Without your substance of choice how will you cope with a bad day at work? An angry spouse? Rebellious kids? Fears about your future?

Treatment can help you face and overcome all those fears.

You Have to Accept the Unknown

If you’ve never been through treatment before, you have no idea what to expect. You have a thousand questions:

What will it be like?

How will you know if it’s working?

Will your therapists treat you with disdain or with respect?

Everyone who enters treatment has these same questions. But look at it this way: addiction has already taken control of your life away from you. Getting help is a way of regaining that control  and learning how to reclaim your life.

You Risk Being Shamed

Fear of shame is a powerful motivator. People who don’t understand why you turned to drugs or don’t understand the way addiction works may not be very supportive. They might even blame and shame you.

This phenomenon – shame and blame, whether external or internal – is a big deal. Depending on who knows about your addiction, it can change your entire life. Your family might disown you. You could lose your job. You can imagine dozens of worst-case scenarios that might happen if judgmental, uninformed people find out you entered treatment.

But here’s something you should know – during treatment, you learn how to navigate these challenges. You learn to deal with people who just don’t get it. Many people have been where you are now, and they learned how to deal with negative attitudes.

It Costs Money

Getting treatment for addiction can be expensive. You’ve seen fancy substance abuse centers popping up that look like day spas. Resorts in Malibu where people do yoga all morning and ride horses on the beach all afternoon. You see those and think:

“There’s no way I can afford something like that.”

But guess what? While those treatment centers are real, and they do help people every day, that’s not what all treatment centers are like. Pinnacle Treatment offers affordable, community-oriented programs with over sixty locations in six states. We understand cost might be a significant barrier to treatment for you. We’re here to help remove that barrier and offer treatment that works for your budget.

You Can Overcome Your Fears – With a Little Help

It’s normal to be afraid of seeking treatment. You’re not the only one. People wrestle this fear – and win – every day.

You can do the same.

You don’t have to go through this alone. Pinnacle Treatment is here to help.  Find a location near you >


The materials provided on the Pinnacle Blog are for information and educational purposes only. No behavioral health or any other professional services are provided through the Blog and the information obtained through the Blog is not a substitute for consultation with a qualified health professional. If you are in need of medical or behavioral health treatment, please contact a qualified health professional directly, and if you are in need of emergency help, please go to your nearest emergency room or dial 911.