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Typical Excuses People Use to Avoid Seeking Treatment

Here are the seven typical excuses people give for avoiding an addiction treatment center. If you want to help your loved one get into the rehab they need, don’t fall for the excuses.

1. “There’s nothing wrong with me.”

Many addicts will genuinely believe they’re fine. In their own mind, they have complete control over their use of drugs and alcohol. It can help to realize that their addiction is working to stop them from seeing reality. Respond in a way that gently points out the truth. Remind your addicted loved one what they as a person were like before the addiction set in. For example, if they never used to lie, remind them. If they never would have stolen, remind them. If they were always on time, remind them. Remind them of who they were and contrast it to who they are becoming as a result of using drugs and alcohol. Allow your loved one to see how drugs and alcohol are changing them. Also highlight how their lifestyle has changed since using. This might include changes to your loved one’s social circles, their sleeping habits or simply the things they once felt passionate about. Let them see how their substance abuse is taking over.

2. “I can’t take time off from work.”

This is a valid concern. But the truth is that many companies recognize addiction as a mental health issue that requires treatment. Make sure to ask your loved one if they have raised their need to enter a drug or alcohol rehab with their employer. If they haven’t, try to reassure them that they won’t lose their jobs because of it and explain that their company could support them in taking time off. Also be sure to emphasize that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) allow for time off for medical needs, including for addiction treatment. Don’t forget to also point out what the long-term impact of an untreated addiction will be. Without treatment, addictions grow. They are racing toward an unemployable status if they do not get help and stop the drug abuse.

3. “I can’t afford it.”

Many addicts struggle with the idea of how to pay for rehab. The good news is there are plenty of drug rehab centers that offer affordable addiction treatment. Also, most healthcare plans cover drug and alcohol rehab to some degree. If a loved one says they can’t enter drug rehab because it’s too expensive, try to explore financing options with them. Different options could include private health insurance, borrowing money, selling possessions, free or reduced cost services from charities and rehabs that offer sliding scale treatment (fees that vary based on a patient’s financial situation). Also, be sure to get in touch with a drug rehab professional or social worker who can help both of you work out the available options. If necessary, you may want to help your loved one calculate the cost of their addiction. How much do they spend on drinking per month? Or on getting their hits? This doesn’t even take into account if they’ve lost a job or two due to their addiction. Very often the cost of rehab pales in comparison to the cost of substance abuse. Help your loved one think of it this way. If you get cancer, you don’t say you can’t afford treatment. You figure it out. Likewise, an addiction is a serious mental health issue, and not treating it is unaffordable.

4. “My problem isn’t as bad as so-and-so’s addiction.”

When you run in circles of drug addicts and alcoholics, there is always someone addicted worse than you. Many addicts will favorably compare themselves with someone whose life has already fallen apart due to their addiction. That way they can justify why they don’t need rehab. An addicted loved one may emphasize that they’re not in debt, homeless or stealing to feed their addiction. But even if someone else’s situation is worse, this doesn’t mean your loved one still doesn’t need and deserve addiction treatment. So, how to get someone into rehab when they compare themselves to others? Point out how their life would be better without the addiction—whether relationally, financially or in their careers. Besides, do they really want to wait until they hit rock bottom to get help? Sure, they can point out others who’ve hit that point, but their own addiction can only go in the same direction.

5. “I can’t handle detox.”

Entering drug or alcohol rehab requires that you stop using drugs or alcohol. However, an addicted loved one may be afraid of withdrawal. It’s true that withdrawal can be emotionally and physically painful. If a loved one voices concerns about detox, be sure to underscore that medical supervision, on-going care and pain management are an essential part of addiction treatment. Refer them to resources that explain the steps of a medical detox. And let them know that trained professionals will help them through this stage of rehab. Moreover, remind them, at some point, they’ll experience withdrawal symptoms. They’ll run out of their chosen drug. They’ll be in a situation in which they can’t drink. They’ll face withdrawal—but it might be without medical supervision. It’s much better to take care of it in a safe, medical detox.

6. “It’s too embarrassing.”

A high-functioning addict may refuse to go to rehab because they find the idea too embarrassing. Addiction affects people of all walks of life, and some people, particularly high-functioning alcoholics, may hide their addictions for a long time. These individuals may worry about what others will think and say about them when they find out about the addiction. This is understandable. It’s true that some people do stigmatize addiction. However, remind your loved one that their addiction is growing. If they don’t get help, everyone will know eventually. Their own symptoms of addiction will tell the world. It’s better to get help before that point. If an addict refuses treatment due to shame, reassure them of the rehab’s confidentiality policy. By keeping their addiction treatment a private matter, you can help an addicted loved one feel more at ease about drug or alcohol rehab. Also, it’s important to show your loved one that you don’t judge them or think less of them for needing rehab. Just as you need treatment for a physical health issue, it’s sometimes necessary to go into rehab for a substance use disorder. Try to get this point across in a calm and understanding manner.

7. “It won’t make a difference.”

It can be difficult to know how to get someone into rehab when they’ve already decided it won’t make a difference. An addicted loved one may feel hopeless. Maybe they’ve been down the rehab road once already and relapsed. It’s crucial to respond with hope and optimism if you get this kind of response. Show that you believe in their ability to get better. Moreover, you can combat this excuse by working with your loved one to find an addiction treatment program that offers the resources and support they need. Showing a loved one why certain treatment programs are more effective can also help to resolve their worries about recovery. Look for programs with holistic therapy that they might not have tried yet, and point out the evidence behind them. Talk about the rehab program and its unique offerings.


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