How to Ask For Help When You’re Addicted

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Millions of people are currently suffering from addiction to drugs and alcohol but unfortunately, many of them will never receive the help they need. According to the 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), 21.2 million Americans ages 12 and older needed treatment for an illegal drug or alcohol use problem in 2014. However, only about 2.5 million people received the specialized treatment they needed in the previous 12 months.1

While many individuals may be in denial about their need for drug detox and rehab, others may suffer in silence because they don’t know how to go about asking for help. In this blog, we’ll discuss the barriers individuals face when seeking treatment, specific ways that you or a loved one can ask for help, and what to expect during the first stages of addiction treatment.

Treatment Barriers

There are many barriers that keep people from getting the treatment they need. Depending on the person, their stage of life, and their unique circumstances, getting treatment for addiction could mean choosing between a job and recovery or choosing between personal well-being and the well-being of an entire family.

One study published in the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment found that problem drinkers and drug abusers identified the following types of barriers as being the most powerful:2

  1. Fear of treatment/bad treatment experiences
  2. A need to conceal drug abuse from a spouse
  3. Privacy concerns
  4. The belief that treatment was unnecessary or not beneficial
  5. Practical and economic issues

Specifically, many individuals may not ask for help because of the following reasons:

  • Pride and shame – The need to conceal drug and alcohol abuse from spouses, friends, and co-workers is often based on pride or shame, as a person may not want someone to know that they need help or may be too embarrassed to admit they have a problem.
  • Lack of childcare – If a mother is suffering from addiction but does not have access or the means to get childcare for her children, she will be much less likely to enroll in a drug and alcohol detox program and rehab that would require her to be away from home for any amount of time.
  • Fear of losing a job – Some individuals may be worried about losing their job or status at work if their employer were to find out that they were seeking treatment for addiction.
  • Financial stress – Enrolling in a detox center or rehab program costs money. Therefore, financial stress may cause a person to feel like they don’t have the financial means to enroll in treatment, even if they were to utilize their health insurance benefits.
  • Limited access to treatment centers
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    Productive Ways to Ask for Help

    Despite the treatment barriers some people face, there are many solutions that can clear away a path to recovery. It all starts with asking for help. For many people, this is the hardest part. It requires courage, determination, and humility to admit you have a substance abuse problem and need help, but it’s also the first step in a life-changing journey that can provide healing, peace, and personal fulfillment.

    If you or a loved one is struggling with a substance abuse disorder, here are five simple and effective ways to ask for help.

    Talk to a close family member or friend.

    If you know that you need help but you don’t know where to start, find a trusted friend or family member and confide in them. Be completely open and honest and let them know that you’re struggling to control your drug or alcohol usage habits. You may be surprised to find that some of your family members or friends have been down the same road and understand completely. A friend or family member who has been through drug detox and rehab will be able to help lead you in the next steps.

    Ask someone to help you research drug detox centers.

    You may not feel comfortable sharing your deepest struggle with a friend or family member, and that’s okay. Instead, just ask a trusted person to help you do some research online to find a reputable drug detox center. This way, you don’t have to share everything if you don’t feel comfortable. You can just let the person know you’re looking to make a change and would like some assistance.

    Ask your doctor for a treatment referral.

    If your doctor is not already aware of your drug and alcohol addiction, he or she is a safe person to discuss these issues with. If you are unsure if your doctor is willing to discuss the issue with you, simply ask if he or she is willing to talk to you about addiction treatment options. If not, ask for a referral to another doctor who is.3 This is a great way to learn about reputable treatment centers and programs in your area.

    Write a letter to someone you trust.

    Sometimes it’s very difficult to verbally talk to family members, friends, and even doctors about your struggle with addiction. In this case, it may be easier for you to write a letter. Taking the time to write down your personal struggles and needs is also a great opportunity to reflect on personal issues that you’d like to resolve in treatment and may even bring some things to light that you hadn’t yet acknowledged.

    Call an addiction treatment facility.

    If you feel like you’re ready to talk to an addiction treatment specialist or possibly enroll in a drug and alcohol detox program, calling an addiction treatment facility is a great place to start. Admissions specialists at these facilities are trained to handle calls like these and are patient, compassionate, and caring. They can help you determine a course of action, verify your insurance benefits or provide information about other payment options, and complete the enrollment process all in one phone call.

    Next Steps

    Once you’ve asked for help, the hardest part is over. The next logical step for most people is to enroll in a drug and alcohol detox program. Most individuals need to complete drug detox before they can enter a rehab facility. This process simply rids the body of harmful chemicals and toxins from repeated drug and alcohol abuse and prepares the mind, body, and spirit for rehab.

    Before enrolling in a program at a detox center, you will likely need to complete a screening either over the phone or in person. This will allow the treatment center to accurately assess your needs and determine whether or not their program is a good fit for you. If it is, a high-quality detox center will have the ability to complete your enrollment that day and begin detox immediately. If they do not, you may want to consider another option.

    Medically supervised drug and alcohol detox provides medical care and assistance 24/7 so you can feel safe and secure all throughout your detox process. Many facilities, such as Briarwood Detox Center, are also designed to make you feel right at home, with private or semi-private rooms, chef-prepared meals, and comfortable living spaces where you can relax and focus on healing.

    If you know you need help recovering from addiction and you’re ready to get started, please call the Briarwood admissions team today to speak to a member of our team.


    1. https://www.samhsa.gov/treatment
    2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1986793/
    3. https://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/treatment/what-to-do-if-you-have-problem-drugs-adults

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