7 Barriers To Addiction Recovery (& How To Overcome Them)

7 Barriers To Addiction Recovery (& How To Overcome Them)

Like many other diseases, drug addiction (also called substance use disorder) is treatable. Drug rehab programs across the country offer inpatient and outpatient care to promote long-term recovery.

Unfortunately, many people don’t seek addiction treatment due to these common barriers

1. Denial

Some people refuse to seek treatment because they don’t believe they have an addiction. They might claim that their drug use is normal or that they can stop using drugs whenever they want.

If your loved one denies their substance misuse, you might feel helpless. 

However, you can help convince them to seek treatment by staging an intervention. An intervention is a structured conversation in which the family members and friends of a person with addiction explain why they think the person needs treatment.  

During the intervention, do not shame or attack your loved one. Instead, calmly provide specific examples of how the person’s drug use has caused harm. To ensure the intervention is successful, seek help from a therapist, addiction specialist, or professional interventionist. 

2. Refusal To Stop Using Drugs Or Alcohol

Addiction causes intense drug cravings that can make it difficult to think about anything except drugs or alcohol. In addition, if someone with addiction stops using, they may experience unpleasant withdrawal symptoms, such as anxiety, sweating, or nausea. 

Often, a person will refuse treatment because they don’t want to deal with cravings and withdrawal symptoms during early recovery. 

To make this part of recovery easier, the person should attend a drug treatment facility that offers evidence-based treatments, such as:

  • medical detox, in which doctors help people safely stop using drugs with minimal withdrawal symptoms
  • medication-assisted treatment, in which doctors prescribe medications to ease cravings and withdrawal symptoms associated with alcohol, opioids, and nicotine
  • cognitive behavioral therapy, in which therapists teach people healthy ways to cope with cravings

3. Co-Occurring Mental Health Issues

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), 37.9% of people with drug addiction have at least one co-occurring mental illness, such as depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, bipolar disorder, or schizophrenia. 

In many cases, a person with mental illness will use drugs to self-medicate their symptoms. 

While drugs may temporarily make someone feel better, they intensify mental illness symptoms in the long run. For example, alcohol worsens depression, and stimulants like cocaine and meth worsen paranoia. 

Even if a person gets treatment for addiction, their other mental health issues may cause them to relapse. That’s why people with co-occurring disorders should attend dual diagnosis treatment programs. These programs address addiction alongside other mental health conditions. 

4. Stigma

The term “stigma” refers to judgment based on a personal characteristic, such as an illness. 

Alcohol/drug addiction is one of the most stigmatized illnesses in the world. People with addiction are often judged as lazy, weak, or selfish. To avoid these judgments, a person may hide their addiction from others and refuse treatment. 

If you or someone you love views stigma as a treatment barrier, remember that no matter what anyone says, addiction is a disease and not a moral failing. If you have the disease, surround yourself with people who understand it and fully support your recovery journey. 

Also, make time for relaxing activities that boost your self-esteem and well-being. Depending on your preferences, these activities may include:

  • journaling
  • meditating
  • reading
  • taking a bath
  • gardening
  • cooking
  • spending time with supportive loved ones

5. Finances

Addiction treatment programs can be expensive. Fortunately, most health insurance plans will cover some or all of your treatment. 

If you don’t have insurance, some treatment programs offer payment plans so you don’t have to pay all at once. There are also low-cost, state-funded treatment programs, though they usually have wait lists. 

In addition, you could ask a loved one to help you pay for treatment or seek donations on a crowdfunding site such as GoFundMe or Kickstarter.

6. Time

Responsibilities like work, education, and childcare can take up nearly all of your time and energy. You might put off treatment because you don’t want to neglect these responsibilities. 

However, avoiding treatment will likely only worsen your drug abuse and make you less reliable over time. When you seek treatment, you’re protecting your health as well as your productivity.

Also, many rehab programs offer outpatient treatment

This option allows you to live at home, which makes it easier to focus on your other responsibilities. However, if your addiction is severe, you might need to spend some time in residential treatment (also called inpatient treatment) before transitioning to outpatient care.

7. Location

If you live in a more rural area, you may need to travel for addiction treatment, especially if you need specific types of care (such as dual diagnosis treatment). The need to travel makes treatment more expensive and time-consuming. 

If you don’t yet have the money or time to travel, consider attending peer support groups in your area. While these groups can’t replace professional treatment, they can help you manage your condition before treatment begins.

If you or a loved one struggles with drugs, please contact a Recovering Champions specialist. Our board-certified healthcare providers offer a variety of substance abuse treatment services, including mental health counseling, medication-assisted treatment, and aftercare planning.

Written by
Recovering Champions Editorial Team

Published on: March 24, 2022 | Edited on: November 21, 2022

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This page does not provide medical advice.

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