Often the biggest challenge for those living with a substance use disorder is recognizing the problem and asking for help. While addiction support may be readily available, the experience of asking for help often feels more painful than stepping on a lego—a pain we are all likely familiar with.
Years ago, when a picture of a shark appearing to wince circled around the internet with the caption, ‘Rare image of a shark stepping on a Lego,’ it went viral because so many people could relate to the specific agony of stepping on a Lego. Notorious for its sharp and unsuspecting pain, stepping on a Lego hurts so much because human feet are sensitive, with as many as 200,000 individual sensory receptors on the bottom of each foot. While many people may relate to and freely admit the uncomfortable experience of stepping on a lego, others may battle a more significant, longer-lasting pain that is harder to discuss, like mental illness or substance use.
What Are the Barriers to Addiction Treatment?
When a person decides to receive professional care at an addiction treatment center like The Right Step, a celebration is in order. However, while they and their family may be met with relief at taking the first step in recovery, the journey is long from over. There are many challenges to overcome, such as finding the right treatment center for you, making the call, determining finances and getting there.
Beyond these, today’s blog explores the following four barriers to addiction treatment
- Denial getting in the way of change
- Insecurity and stigma prevent us from taking those initial steps
- The possibility of facing rejection holding us back
- Failed previous attempts at sobriety discouraged us
In treatment, compassionate mental health experts help normalize why it can be tough to reach out for support, confide in trusted family and friends and ask for help. That’s the aim of this blog as well—to explore the reasons why it’s so hard to make that first step.
Denial Can Prevent Change
As it’s commonly said, acknowledging that a problem exists is the first step to solving it. For this reason, denial is a significant roadblock on the road to treatment and recovery. Especially in cases where an individual is dealing with substance use disorder and a co-occurring mental illness, acknowledging the reality of our detrimental habits can be challenging and overwhelming. The negative consequences caused by substance use may come with an emotional overload that some people find uncomfortable confronting directly. This can cause them to shut down, and ultimately, denial may become their go-to mechanism in an attempt to safeguard themselves from a truth they are not ready to face.
Some people who fail to face the truth within themselves may adamantly refute the notion that a problem exists. Even if others approach them with concerns, they become defensive at others’ worries.
By hiding parts of yourself, self-isolating in hopes that any struggles can go undetected or getting angry when family or friends try staging an intervention, you’re letting your denial dictate the way you live. Ultimately, such denial can cause strain on your interpersonal relationships, bring you inner turmoil and prevent you from getting the support you need.
Insecurity and Stigma Stand in the Way
In other instances where a person feels unable to ask for help, it may not be because they have denied the truth, but because they have admitted it to themselves and it makes them feel uncomfortable. The idea of talking to loved ones about participating in treatment for mental health issues or substance use can be intimidating and overwhelming even to consider. They may anticipate adverse reactions from their loved ones or think they will be treated differently. To avoid being seen as a helpless person who cannot cope with life on their own, some people may try to put on a brave face and ignore the truth.
This facade and the insecurity that comes with it typically stem from stigma against individuals with mental illness or substance use problems seeking treatment. Societal and cultural stigma against mental illness and treatment prevents people from seeing that asking for help is a strong decision. Outdated, unhelpful ideas that suggest that only certain types of people abuse substances, experience poor mental health or seek treatment can make some individuals feel ashamed and think asking for help is an admission of weakness.
Unfortunately, many people delay treatment or never pursue it because stigma and shame make them afraid that openly receiving treatment could cost them their jobs, livelihood or even some of their relationships. At The Right Step Centers, mental health professionals can help individuals and their loved ones understand that vulnerability and seeking help is actually a demonstration of strength that can benefit one’s health and quality of life.
The Possibility of Facing Rejection Can Hold Us Back
In some cases, family members and friends may treat an individual battling substance use differently—not because of stigma, but because of mistakes made, the way they acted or how they hurt others due to the influence of alcohol or drugs. This is not uncommon, as addiction fights to be your #1 priority, beating out everything else standing in the way. In active addiction, it is common for people to neglect their responsibilities, decrease the time and investment they put into their interpersonal relationships or take advantage of others by taking money or resources from them to feed their substance use habits.
Any wrongdoings you committed against your loved ones may have caused them to cut you off and separate themselves altogether. In some cases, it may be to spite you because you hurt or disappointed them, but in other cases, they may remain distant from you as a means of protecting themselves. It may take some time to realize that you need to make amends with people you hurt with your substance use.
Reaching out to apologize and rebuild a relationship with someone can be a scary experience because there is the possibility that they will reject your attempts at reconciliation. The thought of rejection or the feeling of being alienated can exacerbate any existing feelings of judgment or shame. It can make a person feel worse about themselves and their problems and ultimately avoid seeking support no matter how needed it is.
Failed Previous Attempts at Sobriety can be Discouraging
While stigma-driven insecurities and a fear of the unknown can keep people from asking for the addiction support they need, some individuals may not seek help if they have been down the road to recovery before but feel like they went nowhere. Someone who has admitted that they have a substance use problem, confided in trusted loved ones about it, participated in treatment programs several times in the past but always falls off the wagon may feel like their efforts are in vain. Asking for addiction support and seeking help can seem pointless or impossible after multiple attempts at doing so ended unsuccessfully.
The feeling of hopelessness resulting from multiple failed attempts at sobriety or numerous relapses after successfully ceasing substance use can cause some people to give up on themselves. Constantly battling recurring episodes of emotional and mental suffering related to substance use can cause people to tell themselves that recovery is not possible for them. Such a belief can make any effort to seek professional treatment seem like a waste of time. When sobriety seems elusive after trying hard to live a sober life, it can leave a person feeling drained, less motivated and less confident, ultimately making them less likely to seek support and try again at living substance-free.
Take Things Step by Step When Asking for Addiction Support
It may take some time and effort before you can comfortably ask for help. Even if the steps you take to boost your confidence and motivation seem small to you, every effort counts, and they will prove to be meaningful in the long run. Remind yourself that resources exist for people dealing with substance use and mental illness and that utilizing them can benefit your well-being. Try going to a support group or meeting led by treatment professionals.
At The Right Step Centers, individual and group therapy is available for those who need addiction treatment. Group sessions give you the chance to meet and connect with individuals in situations similar to yours who you can relate to and mutually learn from without judgment or shame.
Receive Judgment-Free Addiction Support at The Right Step
Group sessions, support meetings and individual therapy at The Right Step allow you to share your story, listen to others and educate yourself more about substance use and other emotional or behavioral issues you may experience. The treatment team can help you identify potential underlying problems or co-occurring disorders like posttraumatic stress disorder, depression or anxiety that could be contributing to substance use.
Experts at this center provide care and treatment for a variety of issues, implementing several evidence-based and holistic programs, such as:
- Medical drug detox
- Dual diagnosis treatment
- Alcohol addiction treatment
- Inpatient rehab program
- Individual therapy
- Group therapy
- Outpatient rehab program
Calling The Right Step at 844.899.7749 is the first step to asking for addiction support from experts who can help you figure out how treatment will enhance your health for the best. Receiving treatment, counseling, support and guidance in such a safe, judgment-free space can empower you to make meaningful, positive change and achieve lifelong sobriety and healing at a pace that’s right for you.