Going to rehab is a big decision and it can be a scary one. After all, dedicating 1-3+ months of your life to medical treatment is a big deal. Rehab is even harder in that it’s actually intended to change your life. Letting go of what you have now can be stupendously difficult, even if you know you have a problem and you desperately want help. Eventually, rehab is always the right choice, because it will give you the tools to build a life that you can live without needing drugs or alcohol.
While there are many barriers to going to rehab, none of them are as bad as not going to rehab. For example, paying for rehab is expensive, but so are addictions. You might need childcare; many rehabilitation clinics offer childcare and even family therapy. Many of us fear being stigmatized, but that comes with social perceptions of addiction – not with getting help.
Eventually, if you’re struggling with drugs or alcohol, the time for recovery is now. Not tomorrow. Not when you finish this, get that promotion, or do anything else. Now. And there are many good reasons for that.
1. You Deserve Help Now
Your health, your happiness, and your life are important. The longer you wait, the worse those get. And, the more you wait, the harder of a time you’ll have when you do go to recovery. If you can decide to go now and motivate yourself to do it, you’re that much better off. Rehab is about treatment and giving yourself the tools to recover and live a happy life. That often means assessing the underlying problems behind addiction and treating root behavioral, emotional, and mental problems – rather than just getting clean or sober. You deserve that help.
2. Addiction Puts Everything on Hold
No matter where you are in life, there’s a strong chance that you’re not moving anywhere until you recover. Graduation is difficult or even impossible while addicted to drugs or alcohol. Most of us have difficulty learning, building relationships, behaving in fiscally responsible ways, or even maintaining a job while struggling with addiction. That may put many of your life goals on hold. That’s even true if you technically can do all those things because addiction will still get in the way of your social life and interpersonal relationships. Your bonds with people are on hold or directly being sabotaged until you get help.
3. Addiction Prevents You from Being Happy
You’ve probably had a long time of feeling relatively down or not okay. That’s often because of the drugs or alcohol. The more you drink and use, the harder it is to enjoy life without drugs and alcohol. That happens as drug and alcohol abuse literally overwhelm the serotonin and dopamine receptors in the brain. Eventually, the brain slows down its own production of both. In addition, receptors slow down absorption of serotonin and dopamine. So, individuals with drug and alcohol addictions need more of the drug to produce the same euphoric results. But, it also means you’re less able to be or to feel happy, even about things you truly love, because your brain isn’t capable of producing and maintaining the chemicals it should. So, you enjoy everything less, forcing you to turn to more drugs and alcohol to feel good again.
And, that negative cycle is reinforced by dehydration, exhaustion, loss of sleep, and gastrointestinal distress from those same drugs and alcohol. You set up a cycle of feeling bad every day, remove your mechanisms for feeling better, and drugs and alcohol become the only way out. Rehab is the easiest way to end that cycle.
4. Avoidance of Treatment is a Form of Denial
Many addicts struggle with denial, which is essentially refusing to acknowledge the addiction or the seriousness of the addiction. However, denial also takes the form of pushing back help, treatment, or talking to people. For example, many of us find ourselves saying things like, “I’ll go when my daughter is old enough”, “I’ll go after I get a new job”, “I’ll go after I pay off this debt”, etc.
The problems with these kinds of goalposts are twofold. The first is that addiction often gets in the way of achieving some goal posts. It’s difficult to get a promotion, to get a new house, to graduate, etc., if you are spending most of your time, attention, and money on an addiction. The second is that these goalposts tend to move. If you graduate, you suddenly find yourself in need of new housing, finding a job, etc. If you get a promotion, suddenly there’s a lot to do. If you do manage to pay off debt, chances are, there’s another issue. Getting help now puts you in the best position to achieve the goal and to actually get help.
5. Addiction Hurts Your Loved Ones
Most of us don’t want to acknowledge that our addictions affect more than ourselves. But, they do. Even if you have managed to stay clear of the manipulative and emotionally abusive behavior that drug and alcohol addiction often leads to, you are still a different person. That often means that the people in your lives receive less care, less love, less attention, and less of your time than they used to. If they aren’t aware of your substance use problem, those changes come out of the blue and can be hurtful. For most of us, those problems are also often much deeper. For example, if you black out, you don’t know how you behaved or what you said. If you have children, they are impacted by your behavior and actions while drunk. Most likely, your loved ones are very aware something is going on and they are very aware something is wrong.
6. Addiction Keeps Getting Worse
The longer you’re addicted, the worse addiction gets. That happens as tolerance grows, as your perception of what is normal grows, and as circumstances change. For example, for most of us, addiction results in changes to how we think and process input. It results in a higher rate of impulsivity and a higher rate of accepting risk – even when sober. That results in a higher chance of injury, a higher chance of taking on bad risk and things going badly, a higher chance of being convinced of crime such as speeding, etc.
In addition, drug and alcohol abuse always harm the gastrointestinal tract. Binging on drugs or alcohol always results in damage to the liver, to the intestines, and to the kidneys. Long-term abuse of either can result in malnutrition, in organ failure, and in scarring in the liver – which causes long-term problems. Even if your mental condition is relatively stable, your physical health is not.
7. If You Choose Rehab, You Stay in Control
No one can stay in control of an addiction forever. If you eventually crash and are forced to go to rehab by a court or by circumstance, you’ll have less control, fewer options, and less ability to choose where and how you go to rehab. If you go now, you’ll retain that control. You’ll be able to decide how you want to attend rehab, what type of treatment you want, whether you want inpatient or outpatient, and when to pack up and leave. You’ll have control at work, with your school, and with how to tell your family. And, many of us value having that control, because it gives us the choice of how to tell people about addiction, rather than being forced to.
Eventually, rehab is always the right choice if you’re struggling with drugs or alcohol. Therapy and treatment can give you the tools to get out from under an addiction, to rebuild your life, and to be happy without drugs and alcohol.