Substance abuse is a growing epidemic that affects the lives of countless people. Despite the fact that it contributes to damaging relationships, loss of employment or finances, and even death, many people are still not seeking help for addiction. Substance abuse often takes its toll over a long period of time and many do not seek help until the damage reaches dangerous or deadly levels.

It would seem that given the knowledge about the dangers of substance abuse, more people would seek help early on, but they do not. Unfortunately, addiction puts many people in a place where they avoid seeking help and continue to abuse in favor of a false reality. This is often because they are in denial, they are ashamed, or they feel afraid.

Why They Don’t Seek Help

Regardless of the damage it causes, the disease of addiction provides many with an escape they may be reluctant to let go of. Even if it worsens a person’s quality of life, the temporary escape it provides can be enough to fuel this self-destructive behavior. Deep down, many are aware of the consequences and may even know they need to change, but seeking help means admitting there is a problem and letting go of all the things they have grown accustomed to through substance use.

Denial is one of the main reasons a person will not seek help. Denying there is a problem allows the addiction to thrive despite any evidence that highlights it is the source of many problems. Addiction often causes hardships to develop in a person’s life, but by denying there is any link, they can continue to use drugs or alcohol as a means of coping with it. Instead of identifying the role addiction plays in the development of problems, they are more likely to view it as the solution, even if all signs are pointing to the opposite.

Additionally, the stigma surrounding substance abuse can make it difficult for some to seek help. Even if they are aware they need treatment, fear of how they will be perceived can stop a person from reaching out. Shame is a powerful emotion that can be a barrier in treatment. Despite efforts to change the conversation about addiction, many still struggle with how they will be perceived by others and will not admit there is a problem because of it.

Finally, fear can be a powerful motivator in not seeking help. Substance abuse is often a means of escape from painful memories, difficult situations, and other stressors. Getting help for addiction means facing those fears without a crutch. There are other fears that may manifest when thinking about recovery as well. Withdrawal, the unknown, and the fear of relapse can all be scary things to consider when looking at making such a significant change. Fear can paralyze a person into inaction and cause them to stay in a place that feels more comfortable, even if it is causing damage.

Unwilling to Change

Despite the language used describing addiction, there is often not a definitive “rock bottom” that must be hit before a person accepts help. Reaching an imaginary limit does not suddenly spark the need for change, and in many cases, waiting for “rock bottom” to happen can ultimately mean waiting for an overdose or death. Rather than waiting for the consequences to gradually build over time to the point where they are insurmountable, intervening sooner rather than later is vital. The longer substance abuse continues, the harder it can be to communicate effectively and the more damage their body and mind suffers. It can lead to irreversible consequences that make sobriety harder to achieve.

If your loved one is unwilling to change, you must be willing to make changes yourself. This may not be easy and it can be painful, but an unwillingness to change on your part can be an enabler as well.

Follow through

Many who struggle with addiction do not see the consequences of their actions because their loved ones protect them. Consequences carry no real weight or impact unless followed through on. These can range in severity, but still be just as impactful. For example, cutting off access to a cell phone or the Internet can be a strong motivator for some. In other cases, more extreme measures may need to be taken. Not allowing someone to live at home anymore, cutting off financial support, or calling the authorities may be needed actions depending on the severity of the situation. Understanding that there are consequences related to substance abuse can be a motivator to accept help.

Stop enabling

Enabling can take many forms and you may not even realize you are doing it. Ending enabling behaviors requires you to follow through on boundaries and consequences you have expressed. For example, financial support, taking care of their responsibilities on their behalf, or even lying to cover up their addiction are all forms of enabling. Once you stop enabling these behaviors, it makes it harder for them to continue. They must work harder at sustaining their addiction which can be a wake-up call for some.

Get help for yourself

You cannot control whether or not your loved one will accept help, but you can be sure to take care of yourself. Do not allow another person’s addiction to affect your own health. Connecting with others who are in similar situations can help you find the strength and support to continue on. Addiction is not easy and seeing your loved one suffer with the consequences of it is hard, but learning about substance abuse and working with others who share similar experiences can help you learn how to improve your own situation and help them eventually enter treatment.

Setting consequences for continued substance abuse and following through on them may inevitably lead to fallout. In addition to refusing treatment, your loved one may attempt to manipulate you by threatening to never speak to you again, making false promises, and lying. It can be difficult to continue saying “no” in this situation, but it is important to create boundaries and follow through on the actions you have described. Unless physical harm or violence is threatened, it is important to not engage with attempts at manipulation. Taking these actions are often necessary in order to help encourage a person to change.

If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, we are here to help. Give us a call at 888.855.6877 or send us a message below and one of our admissions counselors will do their best to get you the help you need.


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