At some point many struggling alcoholics or drug addicts will finally surrender to their addiction and realize that they need serious help. The question is, will help be available for them when they are ready to finally take action? When they are done playing games and they are really ready to listen to other people tell them how to live their life?
Regardless of what your situation is, no one is going to know exactly what to expect when they reach this critical moment of surrender. It is a point in your addiction where you feel like you can’t go on living in the madness and chaos for another day, but you also cannot imagine getting clean and sober and never using your drug of choice ever again. In traditional recovery they call this “the turning point.”
If you reach this point in your own journey, you will probably be wondering what to do.
Most drug addicts and alcoholics are not flush with cash. Many of them have lost their jobs and the health insurance that is typically tied to that job. For most struggling addicts and alcoholics, finding the resources to pay for treatment is not an easy task.
But that is no excuse. If there is one thing that I want you to take away from this article today, it is that there are no excuses. There are always options available if you really want the help.
For example, maybe you try to go to one specific rehab center, and they don’t take your insurance. Or you don’t qualify to go there. Or you don’t have the copay amount. Or you don’t have anything and there are no funding agencies available. Or whatever the case may be, it just isn’t going to work out at that particular rehab.
So what do you do? Do you just give up your search right there, and complain that no one will help you to recover?
I can tell you from experience that a lot of people who are on the cusp of recovery will do exactly that. They will take any excuse they can find in order to push themselves back into the madness of addiction. Anything to justify more drinking and drugging. And yet this is the very thing that is hurting them, so this behavior is very self-defeating.
This is the wrong attitude to have if you really want to clean and sober.
Of course it is not going to be a perfectly smooth journey, without any bumps on the road whatsoever. There are going to be some challenges. You have to figure those into the plan, and realize that it might take a bit of persistence, a bit of effort, a bit of tenacity. Going from “hopeless drunk” to “awesome new life in recovery” takes quite a bit of effort. It is well worth it, but don’t just expect it to all get handed to you on a platter (for free, no less).
That said, there are always more options. If one rehab center turns you down, no big deal. That is just one possibility in your search that can broaden outwards from there. If you don’t qualify for help at one location then you will almost surely qualify to get help in some other way.
So a big part of this is in simply getting your attitude right. You need to have the right mindset. And that mindset is essentially: “I am going to get clean and sober no matter what it takes, and I will keep trying until I achieve my goal.” That is what it all boils down to. You have to want it.
Exploring your options using the phone
The easiest way to start your search is to get on the phone.
Call up a rehab center. Any rehab center, it doesn’t really matter which one. Ask them what you need to do in order to get help. From there, they will start asking you questions, because they obviously want to help struggling addicts and alcoholics, and therefore they want your business.
So they will figure out if you qualify to come to their rehab, and what (if anything) it would cost you out of pocket. They will know about things like insurance, Medicare, and funding agencies that might be able to help you. If you don’t have the ability to put yourself through rehab then they will know about alternative funding sources that can help. If they don’t know anything that I am talking about here then simply call up a different rehab. Or ask them if they know of any other treatment centers in your area.
Alternatively, you can use search engines to find both drug help lines and also rehab centers in your local area. Call these places up, ask for help, and be nice to the people that you talk with. If you are simply nice and persistent then this will go a long way towards getting you the help that you need.
Most struggling addicts find it difficult to pick up the phone and make the call. If you have friends or family available, sit down with them and ask them to make the call for you. Make sure you are available when they call though so that you can answer any questions.
If you can’t pick up the phone then you need to find another way to reach out for help. If you cannot even call up a rehab then you must find someone who will do it for you, to help set things in motion. It all starts with a phone call.
Funding agencies and insurance options
Alcoholism and drug addiction treatment are not free. They cost money and the rising cost of health care is certainly not helping things much. That said, there are usually alternatives if you cannot qualify for one rehab or another.
For example, I once stayed in a rehab center that was set up for homeless men. In fact, you had to basically have nothing going for you at all in order to qualify to go there. It was a long term rehab though and so you had to be fully detoxed before you checked in (this could be a problem for some if they have no insurance or way to pay for detox). That said, there are always alternatives. Maybe you qualify for free long term care somewhere but you cannot find a place that will detox you, and you have no insurance and no money to pay for it. In that case call up a drug help line and explain your situation. Ask them what your options are. Call up local rehab centers and explain your situation. Ask them what you can do or what it would cost to get through detox. Don’t just take no for an answer and go back to drinking and drugging every day. There is always a way to find the help that you need if you are truly persistent.
In many states (and some countries) there are funding agencies that will pay for people to go through rehab if they do not have any medical insurance or money to pay for treatment. Obviously this will vary a great deal based on state and country so the only way to find out is to ask questions. You need to ask for help, you need to be polite, and you need to be desperate for change in your life. If you are all of these things and you get on the phone like I have outlined here then something should open up for you, some avenue of treatment or help that you can get. If not then you need to keep asking questions so that people can steer you in the right direction. As I keep saying, there is always an alternative if you are willing to be patient and look for it. Be grateful for every little bit of help that might show up for you and you will be amazed at the doors that will start to open. Gratitude is the right attitude to have if you are struggling to get clean and sober.
If you have already detoxed safely then consider the idea of simply going to free meetings
Not everyone needs to go through detox. This is a medical issue and therefore it is not something that you should take lightly.
If you are in doubt, try to do everything that you can to put safety first and get yourself to a rehab that has a full medical detox. There is a chance though (depending on what drugs or alcohol you are taking) that you may not really need to go through detox. Most people need it, to be quite honest. Very few people can get away without going through a real detox center. Keep that in mind as you read the following idea.
The idea is simple: If you do not need a medical detox, then you could potentially get clean and sober simply by attending meetings. Obviously this has worked for many different people; there are thousands who simply went straight to AA or NA and skipped rehab altogether. Again, if there is any doubt that you might be in danger because of detox (alcohol and pills can be particularly dangerous to withdrawal from) then you should seek a medical detox. But if you have already gone several days without any addictive substances then there is a chance that you could simply “cure” yourself for “free.”
I say “cure” because we are never really cured, of course, we only arrest the disease of addiction based on our daily positive actions.
I say “free” because AA and NA meetings are not really free, as the members support them and keep them going with monetary contributions. You could definitely attend meetings forever though without ever paying a dime into them, if you wanted to.
Again, this assumes that you are already safely through withdrawal, and do not need help with detox at all. Such examples are fairly rare, based on what I have seen in my journey thus far. Working at a residential treatment center for 5+ years, I would say that something like 70 to 90 percent go through the medical detox part before they go to the residential side. That is just a rough guess based on my own observations, but it should still give an idea about how important it is for most alcoholics and addicts to get medical attention during the withdrawal stage. It can be seriously dangerous.
The need for disruption in early recovery
The idea outlined above is very seductive to some people–just skip rehab altogether and go straight to meetings. Or maybe just quit on your own, with no help at all, right? Why not try that? (as if you haven’t already tried that a thousand times!).
In my experience, most addicts and alcoholics need a serious form of disruption in order to break free from addiction. It is not enough for most of us to simply start attending meetings. It is not enough of a “break” from the old life.
Going to inpatient rehab is a serious break from the old life. Even if you only go for 10 days (rather than the standard 28 day program) this is a serious disruption of your life. It is this disruption that gives you the opportunity to break free.
Rehab is pretty simple. There are no magic tricks to it, really. You go to a controlled environment and you dry out for a few weeks. They try to help you to avoid alcohol and drugs. They try to teach you the coping skills that you need to deal with life so that you don’t resort to self medicating.
I think this is the essence of a successful recovery–that you learn how to deal with life in a way that does not lead you back to your drug of choice. This means both external and internal changes. This means that you work on yourself and you work on your life situation. This means that you change everything, and that you change it all for the better.
And it’s tough.
Because it is so difficult, you need a way to jump start the process.
Everything in recovery is process. It is all process.
You want to stop drinking or using drugs, it is a whole chain of processes that you must go through.
I think that the outsider who has never dealt with addiction believes that it is just one process: Stop putting drugs into your body. Duh.
If it were only so simple!
In fact, recovery is complicated. Many people in traditional recovery circles like to argue the opposite of this, that recovery is simple, but I don’t buy it. I believe that recovery is complex. My experience has been that recovery is complex.
This is because addiction is so sneaky and can attack a recovering alcoholic or addict from so many different angles. There are a million and one things that can lead to a potential relapse. For example, I have many peers in recovery who relapsed due to a relationship gone bad. I have other peers in recovery who relapsed because they became physically ill or sick over time. I have other peers in recovery who relapsed because they became complacent in their recovery program. And so on.
With so many different ways to relapse, how can people say that “recovery is simple” or that “the solution is simple.” No, it’s not simple. It is not easy, but it is also not simple either. It is a lot of stuff that you need to address if you want to achieve long term sobriety. You can’t just focus on one thing in recovery and expect to do well. If that worked then we could all just focus on “not drinking or taking drugs” and we would be cured! But the truth is that our problems and our lives are much more complicated than that.
You cannot just boil down recovery to a single step. Or even to 12 steps.
For example, the 12 steps of AA do a good job of addressing internal change in recovery. But they do a poor job of addressing external change. This is just as important. Hence you hear people in meetings talking about changing “people, places, and things” if you want to stay sober. Of course that stuff is important! Why isn’t it in the steps? To be perfectly honest, I think it needs to be. And having 12 steps while also adding other requirements is not simple. I can’t even keep 12 plus a few more concepts all in my head at one time! That is not “simple” by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, it can be downright overwhelming.
All of this leads back to the idea of disruption.
You can’t just walk away from your addiction, from a life of drinking or drugging, and expect to change everything overnight.
You can’t just keep everything else the same in your life but then stop drinking alcohol and expect for your whole world to suddenly change and improve as you ride happily off into the sunset.
No, it takes more than that. It takes a huge shift. This is why people in AA say that “the only thing you have to change is EVERYTHING.” It is overwhelming.
To be honest, if I had not gone to rehab (3 times) and also lived in a long term rehab (for 20 months) I am not sure that I would have been able to completely rebuild my life from scratch. How are you supposed to do that if all you do is stop drinking and start attending a few AA meetings here and there for a few hours each week? Or even every day? Life is overwhelming, and so is addiction.
Hence, the need for disruption.
If you can get 28 days in rehab, take it. For the struggling alcoholic, this is like a tall glass of ice water is to someone dying of thirst in the desert. Go to rehab and make the most of it. Stay as long as you can. You are disrupting your pattern of addiction. The more you can disrupt, and the longer you can disrupt it, the better your chances are of rebuilding your life into something that is tolerable for you.
If you walk out of rehab and your life is intolerable then you are going to go back to drugs or alcohol. Why wouldn’t you? I would not blame you for doing so. This is why recovery is so much work. In order to change your whole life you have to put in a massive effort.
If you are thinking of going to rehab then make sure you are willing to put in this massive effort.
This can start with the idea that you might have a large challenge in simply finding the funding or resources to get the help that you need. Don’t be put off if places are turning you down or saying that you do not qualify for rehab. Figure out what you need to do to get help. Ask questions. Dig deeper. Find alternatives. If you want to get clean and sober badly enough then someone will help you. Get on the phone and don’t give up. Persist!
Surrender and persistence are the key
There are really only two things that you need to do in order to get clean and sober:
1) Surrender to your disease. Realize that you need serious help.
2) Seek out help and persist until you find it.
Everything else is just excuses and justification for more drinking and drugging.
Are you ready to change your life today?