It takes a lot to convince yourself to go to rehab. There are so many good reasons to just stay on your current path and try to hold your life together. So many reasons to not overeact and check into rehab, when all you might need to do is just cool things off for a bit, right? There are so many excuses that addicts and alcoholics commonly use to keep themselves stuck in addiction, instead of asking for help.
Let us take a moment and smash the most popular excuses of why people will not go to drug rehab, in spite of their addiction.
Note: You might send this on to a struggling addict or alcoholic in your life.
Here are the main excuses that addicts use all the time:
Excuse #1: “People need me in the outside world. If I go to rehab I will be missed.”
Whoa. What makes you think that the weight of the world is resting on your shoulders? You are a functional drug addict at best, right? And at worst, you are dysfunctional enough to be dangerous at times. The world will continue on without you while you are in rehab for a week or two.
Maybe you have kids and are freaked out about leaving them behind, or in incompetent hands. One, understand that this is only a short sacrifice until you can get the real YOU back, clean and sober (maybe a good thing for your kids? I dunno…) And two, don’t be so high and mighty to judge others incompetent to watch your children. Those who would shoulder the responsibility probably care way more than you think.
Excuse #2: “I have anxiety and cannot deal with groups. They will force me to speak in front of groups.”
I suffered from this phobia and anxiety myself when I was considering rehab, and it does not really wash. For the most part, groups in treatment are very small and non threatening. If you feel put on the spot in any given situation, it is easy to deflect attention and say that you just want to listen.
Seriously, it is that easy. People do it in 12 step meetings, and they do it in groups, and the therapists will all tell you that this is perfectly acceptable. “Sometimes we just need to listen,” they will say. And so you always have the option of saying you just need to listen right now.
I have been in 4 completely different treatment centers, and I have never once felt threatened or like I was put on the spot and embarrassed. This is amazing because I have a serious level of anxiety, one that prevented me from even considering rehab for a very long time.
So do not think you can use your social anxiety as an excuse to avoid rehab. The whole thing is set up to be very casual, easy going, and non threatening. Even for a very anxious person, it is surprisingly easy to be in drug rehab. Do not think that it is beyond you. Anxiety is no excuse.
Excuse #3: “I have been to treatment before. It does not work for me.”
A common excuse and one that I have used myself. Of course at some point, I went to rehab and it worked, and I have been clean and sober ever since.
The difference? It all comes down to willingness. I became open to the idea of a new life for myself.
The fact is that most people who finally get clean and sober and make it “stick for good” end up going to rehab a couple of times before they finally get it.
So yeah, you went to treatment in the past, and you failed. We get that. But obviously you were stuck in denial and not ready to stop at that point. You were not done trying to have fun with drugs and alcohol.
At some point every addict and alcoholic will realize that the fun is over, and has been for a long time. It is then that they are in a position to surrender, to go to rehab and to make some real changes in their lives.
Saying that rehab does not work for you is like saying that taking slow deep breaths will not help you to calm down as you stammer in a frustrated rage. It doesn’t work because you don’t want it to work. Given enough pain in your life, at some point, treatment will become a real solution for you.
Rejecting rehab or professional treatment as a solution to your drug or alcohol problem actually stems from a lack of maturity. It is a child-like reaction to fear. We are afraid to get clean and sober so we grab at any excuse that will seem to fit for us.
Excuse #4: “I am different from other addicts. I truly love drugs.”
Don’t be so short-sighted! Look at other addicts and alcoholics, do you not believe that these people love to get high like you do?
Of course they do!
Sometimes we think that we are unique, and that we are the only ones who have really discovered the joy of getting drunk or high. But this simply is not true. Millions have come before us and fell in love with the buzz, and millions will come after us. We are not so unique.
And as addicts, we also believe that, since others have overcome their addiction, they must not have truly loved the high as much as we do. Because we love the buzz so much that we cannot ever stop using our drug of choice, or so we reason.
Of course this sort of thinking is all a bunch of crap! We are not unique. Others have been just as hooked on drugs and alcohol as we are, and they have managed to overcome their addiction.
Yes, I know it is very difficult. Yes, I know you love to get drunk, or high, or wasted on your drug of choice. Yes, I know you love the lifestyle that comes along with it. And yes, I know that you cannot picture yourself ever being clean and sober again and actually enjoying life.
But guess what?
You are wrong. You are not unique. Other addicts and alcoholics love the high just as much as you, some of them even more. And some of them have managed to turn their life around and get clean and sober.
So you can too.
Excuse #5: “I use drugs to expand my consciousness. They enhance me spiritually.”
This excuse will hold up well in the early stages of addiction. I know this because I was one of the stubborn believers who thought I was finding nirvana through my drug use and experimentation.
But this does not last. Eventually, even the most stubborn drug or alcohol user can see that they are lying to themselves with this line of thinking. Sober up for a few days and then you can tell how clouded your mind really has become over the years.
At first it is easy to say you are on a spiritual, inward journey while experimenting with drugs. But as addiction takes hold, it becomes “same old, same old.” Denial will cause you to hang on to those early memories when you really thought that you made a spiritual breakthrough while getting high, and you will constantly be seeking that same level of expansion. But it is all an illusion, because now you are addicted, your tolerance is changing, and you will never catch that same moment of inspiration again.
Even if you do, it will not be the same, because now you have already been there before. What you really want is to go even further, to get an even better glimpse at enlightenment. But it is not going to happen through artificial means with drugs and alcohol.
All chemicals do is give you a little taste of it, and then it is all downhill from there. The only way to really make spiritual progress is to go chemical-free, and start seeking out the natural highs of the world.
Also, look at it from an objective perspective: all the drug user is doing is sitting there, not accomplishing anything, and just pumping more chemicals into their body. How is that enlightenment? How is it spiritual? It is a waste of molecules! Get clean and sober and let the real trip begin.
Excuse #6: “I am happier when I am using drugs.”
This is denial, pure and simple.
Our mind convinces us that we are only happy when we are using our drug of choice. But if you get scientific about it, you can prove to yourself just how miserable you really are.
Take a notebook around with you each day and write down the times that you are genuinely happy on that notebook. For drug addicts and alcoholics, they will log less than a few hours each week.
Every addict and alcoholic has fond memories in their brain of when they were using their drug of choice and it was genuinely fun. Everything went perfectly and they had a good time and they got just loaded enough that they were able to enjoy their life and be in a state of bliss. Every addict has memories like this and the brain hangs on to those memories as moments of peak happiness.
Denial is a powerful thing. What it does in the mind of the addict is that it convinces them that they will experience that “peak happiness” every time that they use their drug. When the addict thinks about quitting drugs forever, they remember that time of peak happiness, and they believe that:
1) They actually experience that peak level of happiness every day on their drug (which of course they do not).
2) They will never be happy again in their life if they cannot achieve that level of peak happiness, which they believe can only be achieved with their drug of choice.
Of course neither of these beliefs hold up in sobriety. If you get clean and sober and stick it out for a year, you will have moments of happiness that go beyond “peak happiness” and create a new level of joy in your life.
Furthermore, you will be much more content in your day to day life, rather than being miserable for 99 percent of the time.
Denial convinces the addict that they can experience “peak happiness” all the time, as long as they have enough of their drug. In fact, the addict only gets a moment or two of pleasure every week, and the rest of the time they are just using enough to get by and feel normal, rather than truly happy.
Excuse #7: “I am more creative when I use drugs. Without them, I am uninspired.”
This is another lie that the addict tells themselves that can easily be proven wrong.
What happens with creativity and getting high is that the two actually can coexist. It is possible to be creative while you are on drugs. That much is true.
What the addict fails to realize is that they are lowering their expectations while they are high on drugs, so any little creative spark that they have seems like so much more than it really is. By being high on drugs or alcohol, they are amazed when they create the tiniest little thing.
Prove it: take any artist who is hooked on drugs and alcohol, and sober them up for a few weeks while pushing them to create. They will always agree that the stuff they did when they were sober is better than what they did when they were high, even though they did not feel as inspired when they created it. In other words, when artists measure their work objectively, they tend to favor their sober work over what they did while they were high.
Excuse #8: “I won’t have any friends if I get clean and sober.”
This can be a tough one for younger people, because friends are so much more important to them.
In a lot of cases, a person who is addicted will have pushed all of the “normal” people out of their life, so that they are surrounded by friends and people who use drugs just like they do. Many addicts will complain that they do not have any people in their life who do not get high. They are surrounded by users.
Getting clean and sober can be tough in the short term, because you are basically going to have to sever most, if not all, of these connections.
But recovery is a new path in life, and when one door closes, another opens. Old friends will be replaced with new ones.
No one really wants to hear that, though. It is like telling a child who is being forced to move to a new state that they will make new friends. Who cares? They want to keep the friends that they have got. But of course we all know that life does go on, and that new friends will be made.
The moment of surrender goes beyond all this. You have to be desperate enough and miserable that you do not really care about the implications. Yes, you will lose some friends, and it will be a tough road. But if you want to live you will make this sacrifice.
And in the end, you will make new friends if you stay clean and sober. You will.
Excuse #9: “I won’t be able to work if I quit drugs.”
Like many people with addiction, I used to use lots of drugs while I was working. I thought I needed to in order to get through the day. I tried so hard to justify my using that I probably believed at one point that I was a better worker when I was high on drugs than when I was sober.
Madness. Nonsense. All of it is a bunch of BS. We do our best work when we are clean and sober, and we also have more motivation to do that work.
When we are still getting high, most of us resent our work, and we imagine that if we were to stop using our drug of choice, that we would no longer have any motivation to actually show up and get the job done.
Of course this is not true. In recovery, a couple of things happen that will change your long term outlook on working:
1) You will likely find more meaningful work if you get and stay clean and sober. You will not “settle” for just getting a paycheck because without addiction, your life will have actual meaning now.
2) You will be able to apply yourself and get better jobs. You will not fear a drug test. You will be more ambitious in seeking out a better job, or higher education to get a better job. You will find better work and get better pay.
3) You will start to move closer to your real purpose in life, and start to seek education or employment that aligns with that. Work will have new meaning for you, and no longer just be about getting your bills paid.
To think that some people actually argue that they won’t be able to work effectively when they get clean is just ridiculous.
Excuse #10: “I deserve to use drugs. That is how I reward myself. I work hard and deserve it.”
Once again, check your misery rating. How often are you truly happy when you are actively using drugs or alcohol?
You live in fantasy most of the time, always thinking of having a greater supply of drugs, more money, or being off somewhere at a better party. You are never really happy “right now” and most of the time you are just obsessing over your drug of choice and how you are going to get more and when you are going to get high and all of that stuff.
So what is your real reward when using drugs? You get high often but rarely does it live up to the fantasy you have in your mind of “when you got totally wasted that one time and it was just such a great party and fun was had by all.” Those times are over and even if they are not then they are still few and far between. Most days it is just a grind to wake up and get your fix of whatever just so you don’t feel like crap anymore.
Part of denial is telling yourself that it is always that fantasy when you get high, when the reality is that you are miserable for like 98 percent of the time. Really look at your life and think about how many hours each week you are at that “fantasy level of happiness.” It is going to be precious few if you are a true addict or alcoholic.
When you are clean and sober you can treat yourself to real rewards that actually have meaning. Right now in active addiction, you would turn up your nose at examples of this–such as taking a nice vacation, eating a steak dinner, or buying a brand new car. Those things don’t appeal to someone stuck in addiction, because their reward system has completely changed.
But it will change back, over time, even if you do not believe it will. Real life will have meaning again, and you will find pleasure in the simple things again. And life will be good again!
Excuse #11: “I depend on drugs for a medical condition. It is a medical necessity for me.”
I won’t get into the medical marijuana stuff here because that is a huge can of worms. But suffice it to say that there are at least two major conditions out there that can create addicts who become dependent on medication and also abuse it. Those are:
1) Anxiety medications – such as Xanax, Valium, Librium, Klonopin, Ativan, etc.
2) Opiates for pain – such as Vicodin, Percocet, Oxycontin, Ultram, etc.
In both of these cases, alternatives do exist, especially if someone is abusing their prescription.
Now this is not to say that the use of these medications is never justified. However, if someone is addicted to any of these meds, then there is almost always a healthier alternative that is not addictive and can still be able to help alleviate their symptoms.
There are pain clinics. There are alternative therapies. There are anxiety medications that are NOT addictive.
It is your responsibility to find a doctor who is knowledgeable about addiction. It is your responsibility to educate your doctor if they are completely clueless.
If you do not want to take responsibility for this, then you will likely stay stuck in addiction.
I have watched a few addicts in recovery who just cannot seem to “get it” because they have this blind faith in a doctor of theirs that is not very addiction-savvy. The addict thinks that if they have a green light from the doctor then everything is justified now and they can do no wrong. Of course it does not work this way if the doc keeps prescribing addictive meds to them.
In some ways, “we are our own best doctors.” Each addict has a responsibility that goes beyond what their doctor is telling them, a responsibility to put their recovery first.
The best advice in this case is to find a new doctor that is experienced in treating addiction. Find one like that, then turn your blind faith back on.
Excuse #12: “I don’t need rehab, because I could actually stop if I really wanted to. I just don’t want to.”
More denial, pure and simple. I used to actually believe this one myself. Every addict or alcoholic must, at some point in their addiction.
We all think that if we really got serious about trying to quit, that surely we could pull it off without any outside help.
This is not a bad assumption, actually, based on our life experiences. This is why we get so tripped up. We do this because we actually have buckled down in the past, regarding various life issues, and made real growth and real progress in matters that did not concern our addiction. So why should addiction be any different? If we get serious about it, then we should get good results, right?
Not really. What actually has to happen in order to fully break through this denial is for the addict to say “I am addicted, I need real help, and I cannot help myself in this case.”
Fully breaking through the denial is a crushing admission of surrender. The addict is admitting “I cannot figure out how to live well on my own. I can’t do it.”
If you are not at that point then you have not surrendered fully to your addiction. The disease is still in control, still trying to manipulate you into thinking that you are smart enough to beat it on your own.
The truth is that we have to ask for help.
The truth is that we cannot undo our own addiction, just by thinking our way out of it.
If we could do that, you would have done it by now. You are not stupid.
Smart people have no advantage over their addiction. They do not have any special brains that allow them to discover recovery on their own.
It takes full surrender. Ask for help, admit that you need guidance. Sure, it is a massive blow to the ego, but you can have the ego back later if you still want it.
One tiny decision to go to rehab can set your whole life in motion. You might think that living a good life in sobriety where you actually enjoy yourself is beyond you, but you would be wrong. The opportunity is there for anyone who is willing to admit crushing defeat and ask for help. With that, your whole life will change for the better, and you will look back some day and wish you would have made the leap sooner.
Might just as well make the leap now…..what are you waiting for?
Life can be fun again!