Asking for help is the first step in recovery, but often, it’s the hardest one to take. Giving something up that has had a stranglehold on your life means starting over. If that feels overwhelming, having a caring support team on your side is what you need as you take the first tentative steps on your journey to recovery. Asking for help does not mean you’re weak. It means you dare to change your life.
Why asking for help is difficult for people living with an addiction
Fear painful withdrawal symptoms
The fear of dealing with painful withdrawal symptoms is a significant barrier to committing to a substance use treatment programme, particularly if you’ve been through addiction treatment and have relapsed. The fear of going through medical detox often keeps us trapped in chemical dependency.
Denial is a coping mechanism that many addicts use to minimise or justify their use of drugs or alcohol. You might feel that your substance abuse is still within your control, or you’ve minimised it in your mind to avoid confronting the obvious. Denial is common because addiction is a disease that builds as the brain adapts to tolerate the substance in your system. It usually takes months or years to realise that you’ve lost control over substance abuse.
Breaking your silence is scary if you fear being exposed and judged. We’ve come a long way in understanding the disease, but there is still a stigma or stereotype attached to being an addict. People often avoid asking for help from their family or colleagues for fear of being abandoned in their time of need.
Fear of failure
Being afraid to fail (maybe again) is a common obstacle addicts need to overcome before committing to an addiction treatment programme. Perhaps even the simple act of asking for help could fail? You may feel that you’re beyond help, and an addiction treatment programme will be another thing that you at which you fail.
Fear of the unknown
It may be fear of the unknown; because your active addiction is all you’ve known for a while. Living with an addiction may feel more “emotionally comfortable” than living a sober life. Giving up drugs, alcohol or the behaviour you’re addicted to often means giving up the friends and social life you have or the crutch that you’ve relied on for so long.
You don’t feel worthy
Not feeling worthy of help is a big reason many addicts avoid asking for help. Your self-esteem is probably at an all-time low, and you might feel you’ve lost the trust and compassion of family and friends. If you’ve tried to quit and then relapsed, you may not feel you deserve a second chance. Low self-esteem and feeling you’re not worthy may well have roots in how you were made to feel when you were young.
5 ways you can ask for help for addiction
Remember, asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness. It takes strength and great courage to lay yourself bare and receive support. You’ll find that those closest to you are more than willing to help, but they need your permission and your commitment to walk the journey to recovery alongside you.
Search for information on your addiction and treatment options
Research is one way to take back some control of your life; equip yourself with information about addiction and treatment options. Your research should include how much it will cost to go to an inpatient treatment centre if needed and how long you need to stay.
Talk to someone who’s gone through the same thing
Seek out someone in your family, group of friends, work environment who has walked the same path that you’re on and has sought help for addiction. The advice and encouragement they’ll give you is often far more real than you’ll get from someone who’s never lived with an active addiction.
Speak to a doctor or therapist with addiction experience
Seek out a doctor or therapist who has experience in addiction care and treatment. The GP you’ve seen since you were a child might not be the best person for the job. Addiction is a chronic disease clinically known as substance use disorder. Diagnosis is best left to addiction care professionals.
You can find support, answers and resources through Help Lines or inpatient and outpatient addiction treatment centres. If you suspect you have developed an addiction but you’re not sure how bad it is, speaking to a professional will give you some clarity and together, you can work on a plan to seek help if needed.
Write a letter to your loved ones
If you’re not ready to sit across from your family or friends and ask them for help in person, it’s okay to put your thoughts on paper first. Write down how you’re feeling and what you need from them; it’s an excellent way to organise your thoughts before speaking out.
Keep it simple and avoid blaming anyone or anything for your addiction; make it clear that you’re ready to accept treatment options that are available to put you on the road to recovery.
Ask a counsellor at an addiction treatment centre for help
Often it’s best to go straight to someone who is trained in addiction care. You can call an addiction treatment centre like White River Manor and rely on the fact that there’ll be someone on the other end of the phone who can help.
Discuss your concerns and options for treatment. Once you’ve got the information you need and a person you can trust to support you, you can then approach your family, friends or colleagues and let them know that you’re ready to make a change.
When to ask for help for addiction
Choose the right time
Choose a time to talk to your family when you feel calm and are mentally prepared to hold the conversation. Avoid doing it when emotions are running high and anger and resentment threaten to derail the conversation.
Don’t wait until you hit rock bottom
Substance abuse can be deadly. Don’t wait until you hit rock bottom before you ask for help. A titanic fallout isn’t necessary for someone to realise they genuinely want and need treatment.
Hitting “rock bottom” does not always precede getting sober. Like most chronic diseases, substance use disorder progresses with time. The longer you put off treatment, the more mental and physical damage is done.
When you have a plan
Come to the conversation prepared with a plan on how you’d like to tackle getting the help you need. It’s helpful to work out if you need inpatient or outpatient treatment because the cost of treatment and the time you’ll need to work on your recovery will have to be addressed at some stage. A tentative plan will show your loved ones that you’re serious about getting help, and what you need is their love and support.
We’re here to help.
Contact us today if you’d like a confidential and free chat with one of our highly-trained addiction professionals at White River Manor in South Africa.