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  • About 10% of Americans will experience substance use disorder (drug addiction) at some point in their lives. When left untreated, this disease can lead to damaged relationships, job loss, and life-threatening health problems. 

    Unfortunately, many people refuse addiction treatment. Here are ten of the most common reasons why. 

    1. Denial

    Some people avoid drug rehab because they refuse to admit they have an addiction. They might insist that their alcohol or drug use falls within a normal range, even if it’s clearly excessive. In addition, they may claim they can stop using substances whenever they want. 

    Someone in denial may also argue that they don’t need treatment because their drug use has not caused any problems at work, school, or home. These individuals are sometimes called “high-functioning addicts.” 

    Unfortunately, even if someone with addiction appears to lead a successful life, they still face serious health risks without treatment.

    2. Stigma

    People who battle substance abuse face a great amount of stigma. They’re often judged as lazy, selfish, or immoral, despite the fact that addiction is a disease and not a character flaw. 

    To avoid these judgments, some individuals hide their addictions and avoid professional help. They worry that if they enter a drug rehab center, their friends and family members will view them as weak. In reality, it takes significant strength to seek help for addiction. 

    3. Fear Of Detox

    Most addiction treatment programs start with medical detox. During detox, doctors help you manage withdrawal symptoms as you get drugs out of your system. The most common withdrawal symptoms include:

    • headache
    • nausea and vomiting
    • sweating
    • shaking
    • irritability
    • anxiety
    • depression
    • drug cravings

    Some people avoid rehab because they fear these symptoms. However, during detox, your treatment team will work hard to keep you as comfortable as possible. 

    4. Cost

    Many people put off rehab because they find it too expensive. Indeed, most rehab programs cost thousands of dollars. Luckily, under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), all health insurance providers must cover addiction treatment. The amount of coverage you receive depends on your specific insurance plan.

    If you don’t have insurance or are underinsured, you could reduce the cost of rehab by:

    • asking family or friends for help
    • starting an online fundraiser
    • applying for a loan
    • checking if the treatment facility offers payment plans

    5. Lack Of Time

    The addiction recovery process requires time, energy, and focus. Some people refuse treatment because they don’t want to neglect their responsibilities at home, work, or school. 

    However, untreated addiction takes a serious toll on your ability to meet your responsibilities. People who take the time to attend a rehab facility become far more responsible in the long run. 

    If you truly don’t have time to attend an inpatient treatment program, consider outpatient care. Most outpatient programs allow you to schedule your treatment sessions around your other responsibilities. 

    6. Distance

    Some people refuse rehab because there are no treatment facilities in their area. 

    Indeed, while largely populated states like California and New York have numerous rehab facilities, smaller states like Vermont and Montana have very few. You may also need to travel for rehab if you don’t live near any cities. 

    While traveling for rehab might sound inconvenient, you must prioritize your health. Some rehab facilities also offer transportation services to make your journey easier. 

    7. Fear Of Job Loss

    Under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), your employer can’t fire you for attending rehab. Even so, many people fear they will lose their jobs simply for admitting they have an addiction. 

    They may also worry that their employers won’t let them take time off for treatment. However, most employers must follow the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). 

    This law requires companies to provide job-protected, unpaid leave for employees seeking medical treatment, including addiction treatment. 

    8. Poor Coping Skills

    Many people with addiction started misusing drugs to self-medicate mental health disorders such as depression, bipolar disorder, or anxiety disorders. They may avoid treatment because they worry that giving up drugs means their mental health will suffer. 

    Fortunately, many addiction treatment programs offer dual diagnosis treatment. 

    This type of care addresses addiction as well as other mental health conditions. That means your treatment team will teach you healthy ways to manage your mental illness and boost your sense of well-being, such as journaling, meditating, and exercising. 

    9. Lack Of Information

    Lots of people avoid rehab simply because they don’t understand their treatment options. That’s why it’s important to talk to your doctor as soon as you or someone you love shows signs of addiction, such as mood swings, loss of interest in activities, and isolation. 

    Your doctor can screen you for addiction and explain which types of treatment may work best.

    10. Previous Relapses

    A person with addiction might refuse treatment because they sought help in the past and then relapsed. In this case, they may view rehab as a waste of time. 

    However, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), between 40% and 60% of people with addiction relapse. That’s similar to the relapse rate for other chronic illnesses, including asthma and hypertension. 

    With any illness, relapse does not indicate failure. Instead, it just means the person needs additional or modified treatment. 

    If you or someone you love struggles with drug abuse, please reach out to an Ark Behavioral Health specialist. Our board-certified healthcare providers offer medical detox, mental health counseling, and other evidence-based treatment services to help you or your loved one thrive.

    Written by Ark Behavioral Health Editorial Team
    ©2024 Ark National Holdings, LLC. | All Rights Reserved.
    This page does not provide medical advice.

    National Institute on Drug Abuse - Treatment Recovery
    National Institutes of Health - US Adutls & SUD
    United States Commission on Civil Rights - Substance Abuse under the ADA

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