The first step of overcoming an addiction is admitting that you have a problem. The second step is deciding to do something about that problem. To someone who does not have any experience with addiction, these steps may appear to be simple and straightforward.
The reality of the situation is a bit more complex.
Even after a person has taken the first step of acknowledging that a problem exists, the decision to get help is far from automatic. Fear of the unknown, concerns about paying for treatment, worry about the pain of withdrawal, and a mistaken belief that he or she is incapable of being helped are among the many reasons why an individual may be hesitant to get help for a problem with substance abuse and addiction.
Depending upon the individual, one or more of these reasons can preclude a person from getting help for months or even years, which increases the likelihood that he or she will experience a greater number of severe and possibly irreversible negative outcomes. One way to avoid dangerous delays in getting help is to understand the many real benefits of getting treatment for substance abuse and addiction.
If you have been abusing or have become addicted to alcohol or another drug, the following are among the many ways that treatment can significantly improve both the substance and quality of your life:
Benefit #1: Treatment Stops the Damage
“If you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is stop digging.” This advice is commonly given to individuals who have made a mistake in their personal or professional life. It is a somewhat creative way of saying, “stop making things worse.” When a person has become addicted to alcohol or another drug, his or her life can become consumed by self-defeating behaviors that are the very definition of making things worse.
The moment a person enters treatment, that pattern of self-inflicted damage stops. When you are in an effective treatment program, you will not drive drunk, you will not overdose, and you will not otherwise put your mind and body in danger due to substance abuse.
Benefit #2: Treatment Removes Temptation
This benefit is directly correlated to the damage-prevention aspect of the previous section. One of the most insidious aspects of attempting to overcome an addiction on one’s own is the ever-present understanding that the physical and psychological pain of withdrawal and early recovery can be alleviated by drinking alcohol or taking another dose of whatever drug a person has been trying to avoid. In an effective treatment program, that temptation is removed.
Depending upon the nature and severity of a person’s addiction, and the policies and procedures of the program, drug cravings and other withdrawal symptoms may be addressed with medication and/or therapy. Also, even when these cravings are at their most intense, a person in treatment will not be able to make a run to the corner liquor store or arrange a meeting with his or her dealer. In treatment, a person will be prevented from making the poor short-term decisions that can have such a negative long-term impact.
Benefit #3: Treatment is a Community Effort
Recovery does not occur in a vacuum. When you enter a reputable and effective program, you will join a vibrant and dynamic community that exists for one reason only: to help people live drug-free lives. Individuals who just started treatment, people who have been in recovery for years or even decades, professionals who treat addiction, and various friends, family members, and other sources of support all have a role to play in the recovery community.
Addiction can be a devastatingly isolating experience, but starting treatment will show you that you are not alone. As you grow in your sobriety, you will continue to draw strength not only from the support of loved ones and professionals, but also from your increased ability to be a source of guidance and support to others who are also walking the path of lifelong recovery.
Benefit #4: Treatment is a Comprehensive Experience
As noted in the previous section, recovery does not occur in a vacuum. Neither does addiction. In many cases, the abuse of alcohol or another drug is not a person’s core problem, but is instead a symptom of an underlying issue or co-occurring mental health disorder. For example, many people who enter treatment for addiction discover that their substance abuse is actually the result of a subconscious effort to self-medicate or numb themselves to the psychological pain of depression, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), or one of a host of other mental health issues.
In a comprehensive addiction treatment program, professionals will work with individuals in treatment to identify and address these co-occurring disorders, which will significantly improve the chances that the individual will experience improved quality of life and will be much better able to achieve long-term recovery.
It is completely understandable to be concerned or even fearful about getting treatment for an addiction. Significant life changes, even the best ones like graduation, marriage, and getting a great new job are always accompanied by worries and misgivings. However, as is also the case with these positive experiences, the best approach is to acknowledge your worries, get the information that will put your mind at rest, and appreciate the many benefits that will occur. When it comes to addiction treatment, the benefits discussed on this page are just a few of the virtually incalculable improvements that can occur when you make the decision to get help.