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8 Barriers To Addiction Treatment

barriers to addiction treatment

In the United States, approximately 40.3 million people had a substance use disorder in 2020 according to the National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics. However, more than 4 in 10 adults who needed care did not get treatment.

With so many individuals struggling with addiction, why not seek treatment? Here are eight of the most common reasons why individuals with addiction don't seek treatment, and how to overcome those barriers.

1. Stigma

Fear of judgment or discrimination from society, friends, or family members can prevent individuals from acknowledging their need for help. While the stigma behind recovery is very real, the truth is, addiction is a disease in which a person finds themselves unable to stop using a substance or stop engaging in a behavior. There is no shame in getting help.

How can this barrier be overcome? 

Stigma can be addressed by challenging negative attitudes and perceptions about addiction by advocating for understanding and acceptance within communities. Substance abuse is the only disease where you get lectured by your spouse, your friends, or even your employer. If it was a disease like diabetes, others would show more compassion and be empathetic.

2. Denial

Some people may not recognize or acknowledge the severity of their addiction, leading to resistance in seeking treatment. In fact, denial is the first of 5 stages of recovery, also known as precontemplation. Individuals often feel their usage is completely under control and continue to deny they have a problem. They may even feel their problems are caused by outside factors and not the addiction itself.

How can this barrier be overcome? 

Recovery often begins with overcoming denial. The support of loved ones, interventions, therapy, and education can help. The best way to approach someone with addiction and denial is in a compassionate and non-confrontational manner, since attacking or pressuring them can sometimes reinforce their denial.Loved ones can learn about addiction, treatment options, and available resources to make informed decisions so they are prepared when the individual is ready to acknowledge they need help.

3. Lack of Awareness

Limited knowledge about available treatment options, resources, or where to seek help can be a barrier to seeking addiction treatment.

How can this be overcome?

The best way to combat a lack of awareness is to learn about addiction, treatment options, and available resources to make informed decisions. If a loved one is struggling with addiction and not seeking treatment, learning about addiction and treatment yourself can help you be a resource when they are ready to open up about their challenges.

4. Accessibility Issues & Financial Constraints

Geographic distance from treatment facilities, transportation challenges, or long waiting lists for services can make it difficult for individuals to access treatment. In addition, the cost of treatment, lack of insurance coverage, or inability to afford treatment expenses can hinder access to care.

According to the 2022 Access to Care Survey, various obstacles can hinder or postpone treatment. These include cost, availability, wait times, a lack of diversity in care providers, and the proximity of care facilities. These factors pose considerable challenges for everyone looking for treatment for substance use and mental health issues, affecting both individuals who managed to access care and those who did not.

How can this be overcome?

Just because you hear rehab isn’t covered by insurance, don’t assume it to be true. Make sure to talk to your insurance provider. You can still find rehab without insurance - explore options for financial aid such as scholarships, sliding-scale payment plans, loans and credit options, or government-funded programs like Medicare and Medicaid to help cover treatment costs. 

Accessibility issues aren’t overcome quickly, but advocating and working with local organizations or policymakers to improve access to treatment services, transportation options, and reduce waiting times for care can foster long-term outcomes.

5. Fear of Withdrawal

The physical and psychological discomfort associated with alcohol and drug withdrawal symptoms can deter individuals from seeking treatment. While the majority of withdrawal symptoms are NOT fatal, some alcohol withdrawal symptoms require immediate medical attention.

How can this be overcome?

Learning effective coping skills to manage withdrawal symptoms, cravings, and stress during the recovery process is the best way to overcome the fear of withdrawal.For some, medically-assisted detox or medication assisted treatment (MAT) can soothe the physical symptoms of withdrawal or alleviate the cravings and urges that come with it. 

6. Co-occurring Disorders

Mental health issues such as depression or anxiety may complicate addiction treatment and deter individuals from seeking help.

How can this be overcome?

It can be hard to approach a loved one struggling with addiction and mental illness. A good approach is to start by acknowledging mental health is not a moral flaw, it’s a disease just like addiction to substances is a disease. In addition, be a good listener, practice empathy and encourage them to seek integrated treatment approaches that address both addiction and any underlying mental health issues.

7. Lack of Social Support

Absence of supportive relationships or a stable environment can make it harder for individuals to commit to treatment.

How can this be overcome?

It’s important to build a supportive environment and surround oneself with positive influences, establish healthy boundaries, and create a stable living environment. Building a sober social support network will be invaluable in recovery.

8. Previous Unsuccessful Attempts

Past experiences of relapse or unsuccessful treatment attempts can lead to feelings of hopelessness and reluctance to try again.

How can this be overcome?

Stay persistent. Addiction is a chronic condition, and relapse is often seen as a normal part of the recovery process. It is common for those attempting to overcome addiction to go through one or more relapses before successfully quitting. Maintain motivation, persistence, and resilience, even in the face of setbacks or challenges, and continue to seek help until the right treatment approach is found.

Getting Help For Addiction

If you or somebody in your life seems to have an issue with alcohol or drug addiction, professional help may be the best option to help continue on the road to recovery.

At Care Addiction Center, we offer treatment plans that address every facet of your addiction, serving individuals in Geneva, Batavia, Sycamore, St. Charles, and Kane County, with online addiction treatment available anywhere in Illinois. 

To get started on the road to recovery, or if you have questions about helping yourself or a loved one, call us today or schedule a confidential assessment online and begin treatment.


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