23 Apr The Cure vs. the Disease: 10 Fears Addicts Have about Drug Treatment and Rehab
While they may deny the existence of their disease for a very long time, once addicts and alcoholics finally accept the truth about their chemical dependency, virtually all will express a desire to undergo treatment. But unfortunately, many hold preconceived notions about the rehabilitation process and about sobriety itself that can make them reluctant to follow through on this initial interest. Treatment facilities are staffed by addiction experts who know how to help substance abusers conquer their harmful habits, but, tragically, fears about what treatment will entail and the sacrifices it will require often prevent addicts and alcoholics from seeking the professional assistance they so desperately need, even when they realize that drugs and alcohol are slowly destroying their lives.
A comprehensive list of these fears could go on for pages, but what follows are 10 of the most common, along with analysis that explains why they are all essentially groundless:
Fear of the symptoms of withdrawal
Like everyone else, addicts and alcoholics have heard the horror stories about how painful withdrawal from drugs and alcohol can be. But while there is no way to avoid this unpleasant reality completely, a supervised withdrawal monitored and controlled by trained medical personnel, possibly including medication that can ease some of the symptoms, will significantly reduce the suffering associated with the process.
Fear of lost relationships
This concern is really two-fold: addicts worry that time away from loved ones may cause valued relationships to fray, and they are also concerned that friends who are still drinking or using may reject them after they clean up their act. In the first instance most addicts really have little to fear, since those who have their best interests at heart will be delighted if they can find sobriety and are unlikely to drift away no matter how long the rehabilitation process might take. As for the second group, addicts need to realize their substance-abusing friends are in just as much trouble as they are, and that by seeking help for substance abuse, addicts can inspire others to do the same.
Fear of lost self-confidence
Many addicts and alcoholics learn to prize the feelings of false bravado they gain while under the influence of intoxicants, and they fear that if they get sober they will soon be overwhelmed by shyness, stress and a general lack of self-confidence. But what substance abusers fail to realize is that others view their behavior when drunk or stoned not as confident or admirably bold, but as obnoxious and inappropriate.
Fear of being judged and stigmatized
“What will others think of me if they know I am an addict?” This is a question that substance abusers often ask themselves, and because they fear the rejections and judgments of others, their first instinct is to continue the lie for as long as they can. But eventually, everyone will find out anyway, and while an addict or alcoholic who seeks help will be admired by many, one whose secrets are exposed only after his life crumbles into pieces will be left humbled and humiliated.
Fear of weight gain
A surprising number of substance abusers believe the emaciated look that often accompanies addiction is somehow more attractive than the alternative. Of course even if they were to put on more weight than they would like after getting sober, recovering addicts could always use diet and exercise to shed those excess pounds, thereby improving their health even further.
Fear of being bored or depressed
Even after the ruin it has brought to their lives, many substance abusers continue to believe that life without intoxicating chemicals would be dull and uninteresting. Obviously this thinking is highly distorted, but it is typical of the way drugs and alcohol corrupt perception just as they destroy the integrity of the body and the spirit.
Fear of opening up in front of others
For most human beings, the thought of opening up and speaking forthrightly about their sorrows and troubles in front of others is discomforting and intimidating. But addicts and alcoholics should know that while they will be expected to share details of their lives with addiction counselors and in peer therapy sessions while in rehab, they will not be forced to reveal the most intimate and private details of their lives before or unless they are truly ready to do so.
Fear of trusting the wrong people
“Who are these therapists and addiction counselors, anyway? Do they really know what they are doing, or will they just mess up my mind and make things worse than they already are?” This sort of internal dialogue is common for people thinking of entering any kind of therapy, and the self-conversation will go into hyper-drive for substance abusers who are considering a lengthy in-house stay at a drug and alcohol treatment and rehabilitation center. These fears are groundless, but they are understandable, which is why anyone contemplating a stint in rehab should take the opportunity to meet with those who will be treating them and working with them first so that a level of trust and familiarity can be built up beforehand.
Fear of digging up old traumas
In many instances, past traumas underlie compulsive and self-destructive behavior, and many addicts and alcoholics may have to come to terms with such issues at some point during their rehabilitation regimen. But again, no one will be required to share too much too soon, and as long as those old hurts are left free to wreak subconscious havoc it may be all but impossible for a wounded person to move on from addiction or any other type of dysfunctional behavior. So while reliving old traumas may be difficult, it is a necessary part of the healing and recovery process.
Fear of failure
This is the most basic and most powerful fear that addicts and alcoholics must overcome before going into rehab. As long as treatment is kept in the future, the addicted person can always rationalize that he will get help for his problem some day, when he is finally ready. But the fear of failure actually assures failure; if the addict or alcoholic never makes the effort to recover, he will never get clean and sober, and no effort will be possible as long as fear is allowed to reign supreme. So when push comes to shove, entering a treatment facility—now—is really the only option for the substance abuser. Failure is essentially a self-fulfilling prophecy, but so is success, and every successful outcome in life starts with a decision to seize an opportunity when it is available.
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