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What Prevents People from Seeking Treatment for Addiction?

At any given time, there are more than 20 million Americans who need treatment for addiction, but only about 10 percent of those people actually seek treatment. What prevents the rest of them from seeking treatment?

Some of those people try to recover on their own or with the help of family. Sometimes this is a reasonable approach. If an addiction is not long-standing or severe, it is generally safe to try to detox at home, assuming the addiction is not to benzos or barbiturates. Some people can successfully detox at home, usually with family support, and ideally under the supervision of their doctor. For people with more serious, long-standing addictions, this is not a good idea. Severe alcohol withdrawal–DTs–can be dangerous, and opioid withdrawal can be so painful that many people can’t tough it out at home and end up relapsing.

A large percentage of people who don’t seek help–almost half–believe they can’t afford it or that insurance won’t cover treatment. Detox and treatment can be expensive, and relatively few people can pay out of pocket, but insurance frequently covers detox and some degree of inpatient treatment. Treatment centers have people who specialize in working with insurance companies, or finding other avenues of funding, often through state or federal programs. Don’t automatically assume treatment is too expensive.

The next largest group is just not ready to stop using or don’t think they need help. For them, the bad doesn’t yet outweigh the good, or they can’t admit their drinking or drug use has become a problem. If they can’t see they have a problem, their families or friends must help them see it before it’s too late.

Another large group fears the stigma of addiction. They know they need help but are too embarrassed to get it. They don’t want anyone to know about their addiction, so they keep struggling in private. What they don’t realize is that most of the people they care about probably know already. Often, addicts are the last to realize they have a problem. And if they have managed to keep it a secret, it’s only a matter of time before the addiction gets out of control, so it’s better to get help now.

Some people fear it will affect their work. It’s probably true that taking a bit of time for treatment will affect their job, but sooner or later, addiction will affect it much more adversely. Generally, employers want their employees to get treatment if they need it, and they are required by law to grant leave for treatment under the Family Medical Leave Act.

The last group of people who don’t get treatment simply don’t know where to get it. The US actually has many treatment centers, but some areas, especially rural areas, are underserved. If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, Gardens Wellness Center can help. Call us today at 844-828-1050 or email us at