Reader Mailbag – Is there no Help for Me in Addiction Recovery?

Reader Mailbag – Is there no Help for Me in Addiction Recovery?

Reader mailbag

“1. I’ve admitted I have a deep problem with my addiction (not drink, but something else)
2. I’ve accepted that my problem is deep set and effects not only me but all my loved ones
3. catch22 – there ain’t any help out there for me “

I believe that I can relate deeply to this person’s feeling of being trapped.

The truth is that nearly every addict and alcoholic feels like they are unique in their situation.

For example:

“Recovery will never work for me because I have too much anxiety to go to meetings.”

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“Recovery will not work for me because I have no insurance and can never afford rehab.”


“Recovery will never work out for me because I have been to AA and it never works and the 12 step program will just not work for me and that is all they offer for help around here.”

In all of these examples, people are not willing to give recovery a chance because they believe that they are unique and that they cannot possibly get clean and sober for one reason or another.

This mindset or attitude of being unique is VERY common among addicts and alcoholics.

We have a tendency to think in a very self centered way, and to believe that we are the only person in the world who has ever “truly fallen in love with getting drunk or high.” We secretly believe that others who claim to be addicts and alcoholics could not possibly have been as hard core in their addiction as we are, or that they loved their drug of choice as much as we do. Because we are the one who is addicted and because we are so close to our own problem and our own pattern of self medicating, we believe that we are the only ones in the whole world who is truly, truly in love with getting drunk or high.

This is madness. This is crazy to believe that we are unique, or that others are not true addicts and alcoholics like we are. It is crazy to think that no person in history has ever loved drugs or alcohol as much as we did, and that they were somehow able to overcome their addiction and find sobriety.

Our thinking is essentially this:

“Other people who claim to have been addicts and alcoholics who were able to get sober and find recovery must not have loved drugs or alcohol as much as I do, because I am unique and I love getting high so much that I can never stop, and so therefore they were not really addicted like I am.”

This is insane, and flat out wrong. There have been many, many addicts and alcoholics who have been just as in love with getting high as anyone else, and yet they have sobered up eventually and found recovery.

I can vouch for the process myself–I thought that I was truly unique because I loved to get high more than anything in the whole world, and I promised that I would never stop getting high. But at some point it became less fun, and in fact it was making miserable, and I eventually broke through my denial.

So even if you believe that you are unique and completely hopeless due to the depth of your addiction, this is not true. Other addicts and alcoholics who were just as hopeless as you feel have been able to recover. It is always darkest before the dawn.

Now as for the argument that there is no rehab availability, let’s discuss the idea that nearly anyone can get professional help if they are patient and persistent enough.

Funding is the only real issue when it comes to rehab. If you have unlimited cash or the best medical insurance in the world, getting into rehab is no problem. We all know this.

The problem, of course, is that most struggling addicts and alcoholics do not have outstanding insurance or big piles of cash laying around to spend on rehab or professional treatment services.

So what is the answer? If you call up a local rehab and they tell you that you do not qualify to get help or that your insurance will not cover it, what can you do?

You can do a lot of things. What you do NOT want to do is just say “well, that’s that, I guess I just keep getting drunk or high.” But there are always alternatives, such as:

* If you are denied due to lack of insurance, see if you can get funded by local or state governments. Many states have programs that can help people who do not qualify for other types of funding.

* If you have either Medicaid or Medicare or both, you should call up local rehabs, see if you qualify to go there, and if not ask for alternative rehabs that accept your coverage. They will know and be able to direct you.

* Even if you have no money and no insurance of any kind, get on the phone. Call up a local drug rehab. Explain your situation. Be nice and friendly and desperate (because you are, right? I know I was….) and even if that rehab can not help you, ask questions. Do not demand information, but be nice and beg for their help and guidance. Ask them if they know of any alternatives, such as other rehabs that might accept your type of funding (even if you have no funding). If you do this correctly you should make lots of calls and get some leads on things that you might do, places that might help you, services that you might qualify for.

* If you have tried everything and made dozens of phone calls and ultimately determined that no one can or will help you and that there is absolutely no way that you can get any sort of funding for professional treatment services, then my advice for you is to simply go to AA meetings. Lots of them. In fact you can treat it almost like outpatient rehab if you have a large AA meeting hall in your town and you can hang out there all day and use the place as a central focal point of your early recovery. This is how many alcoholics have sobered up in the past when they could not afford or qualify for treatment, they simply go to AA meetings all day, every day, and hang out and drink coffee with people in recovery all day.

Now you may turn up your nose at this idea and say “well, AA has never worked for me in the past and so this idea is ridiculous and this will never help me and I guess I just may as well drink some more.” If that is your logic then you are someone who has not truly surrendered to your disease, you are not desperate enough yet and you probably need some more pain and chaos and misery in your life before you become willing to change.

This is not to say that everyone has to be miserable and hit bottom and accept AA as their solution. All I am saying is that if you are out of options and you cannot go to a rehab center then you have to–at some point–become desperate enough to work with what is available to you.

Perhaps you are not a religious person at all and you may even have anger against religion and churches but there may be a free rehab that is part of a church in your town. If that is “the last house on the block with it’s light on” and you cannot get help anywhere else, well… bad do you really want to get sober?

I had sworn off AA because I was terrified of the meetings and I had real anxiety about them. I promised myself that I would never go to AA again in my life, and that I would rather die from drinking. But something happened over time and I became more and more miserable in my addiction, and I just wanted the pain and the misery to end. So I became willing. It is not that AA was the ultimate solution for me, because actually I eventually bypassed the 12 step program to find my own solution in long term sobriety, but in the beginning, when I was first trying to find my path in sobriety, I had to accept AA. I had to accept AA and I had to accept whatever support was thrown my way because I was like a drowning man who was grasping for a life preserver. The only thing tossed out to me at the time was rehab and AA and so I had to make a choice. Did I want to live and go to AA and rehab or did I want to die drunk? I decided to live and so therefore I sucked it up and I faced my fear head on and I started to attend meetings.

So even though I had at one time been a hopeless drunk, and I had been to rehab a few times and I had been to AA and I continued to be a hopeless drunk and I declared that I would never go back to AA and I basically was saying “I am unique, I am a real addict, I am the only person who has truly loved to get drunk and high, and there ain’t no help out there for a person like me,” I was wrong. I was wrong in this assessment and there WAS help out there for me. I just had to get desperate enough and miserable enough to let down those barriers, those walls that I had up, and let in the help. I had to become willing to seek help, to seek help on someone else’s terms, not my own.

If you demand that people help you with your addiction and you insist that they help you on YOUR terms, then you may as well just forget it. You are not ready for help. No one could possible do enough or give you enough or send you to the perfect rehab in order to help you if this is your attitude.

No, the attitude that will create success is when you say “I am desperate for change, please help me.” And when you say this, you are not trying to manipulate anyone, you are not demanding a certain rehab or a certain type of treatment. You are just sick and tired and desperate for help.

If you say “I need help, but…..” or if you say “I want to go to rehab, but only if…..” then you are not ready to change.

The greatest predictor of your success is if you accept whatever help is offered, without hesitation and without any reservation. If you are so miserable and so sick and tired of your addiction that you do not even care what kind of help is being offered, then this is a sure sign of surrender and you can bet that you have actually reached a turning point in your disease. You are ready to recover.

To say that “there ain’t no help out there for me” is to give up all hope and resign yourself to addiction. I do not think that this is the case for anyone living in the U.S. If you are willing to put in the effort to find help then someone, somewhere, will give you a fair shot at recovery. People will help you but you have to put in the effort, be persistent, and grab a hold of whatever life preserver is thrown your way (even if it is not perfect).

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