Even during a global pandemic, many people feel busier than ever. The idea of putting your life on hold for 30, 60, or 90 days can seem impossible. Because of that, it’s easy to delay treatment for drug or alcohol addiction even when you know that you have a problem.
When you’re looking for a reason not to go to treatment, there are a million excuses. The kids need you home for the transition back to school. You’ll go as soon as you finish that big project at work. You’ll wait until being without you for weeks is more manageable for your spouse.
The truth is, there’s never a convenient time to go to treatment. In almost every instance, now is the right time to go to treatment — as soon as you accept that you need help and find a treatment center that meets your needs. Here’s why:
Addiction is a chronic, progressive disease.
Substance use disorder, commonly called addiction, is a chronic, progressive disease. Chronic conditions are those that last a year or more — generally for a long time. For many people, addiction and alcoholism are chronic conditions. That doesn’t mean that you’ll be living in active addiction forever, but it does mean that you’ll be managing this condition for the rest of your life, through steps like staying sober.
It’s also very important to recognize that addiction is progressive. Medically, that means it’s a condition that gets worse with time. If you found out that you had cancer or diabetes, you wouldn’t delay treatment hoping that you’d get better on your own — you would quickly take advantage of any treatment option available to you, and intervene before your disease got worse. You should approach addiction treatment with the same mentality.
Addiction is fatal.
It might seem dramatic to compare substance use disorder to cancer. But the truth is that, if left untreated, both are fatal diseases. Last year, more than 67,000 Americans died from overdoses. While opioids get a lot of attention, it’s estimated that an additional 88,000 Americans die each year from alcohol-related illnesses.
That’s more than 150,000 lives lost each year because of substance use disorder. If you recognize your drinking or using drug use has become problematic, you could be one of them. Getting treatment for substance use disorder can quite literally be lifesaving.
Acting now can save your reputation and relationships.
It’s true that addiction is progressive on a physical level — as you use a drug or alcohol your body will need more and more just to function normally. This is known as dependency. But addiction is also progressive in the way it affects your relationships.
As your addiction grows and becomes more powerful, it begins to have consequences in your life. You might be late from work; “borrow” money from a loved one to fund your habit; or miss your child’s birthday. Each of those actions chips away at the relationships that you have. Over time, there may be nothing left to lose.
On the other hand, going to treatment builds relationships. It not only prevents you from doing further damage to the people who you love and respect, but it also shows them that you are taking responsibility for your actions. The work that you do in treatment can help you build thriving relationships in the real world.
There used to be a saying that people needed to hit rock bottom before getting treatment for their addiction. However, that’s a dangerous approach — rock bottom could be death or the loss of everyone you love.
Getting into treatment now, rather than waiting, is one way to fight back against the disease of addiction. It shows that you are able to take control of your illness and do the necessary actions to repair your life. Delaying treatment is a losing gamble — and in almost every case things will get worse before they get better. You have nothing to lose — and lots to gain — by enrolling in treatment today.