Breaking through Common Barriers to Treatment: Part 1

Couple talking about getting into rehab.

Many times when people confront their loved ones about their addiction, the person being asked to get help will immediately begin to throw out reason after reason why they cannot go to treatment.

While there can be a multitude of barriers for many people, it is important to realize that sometimes people are just looking for any possible reason they can find to get out of going to rehab.

Addiction recovery is not an easy process and the thought of withdrawal can often be terrifying. This is why even when a person wants to get sober, they may still try to stall on the process.

In this three-part series, we will explore some common reasons that a person may give as to why they feel they cannot go into treatment, along with some strategies to create solutions for these problems.

Perhaps the most important thing to remember when dealing with this sort of situation is that it is an attempt to deflect attention from the underlying issues related to the person either being afraid of getting sober or not feeling 100% ready to go.

The fact is that there will never be a “perfect time” for someone to go to rehab and when it comes to addiction, the sooner a person can get help the better.

“A person who is living a life of sobriety is a much more productive team member than a person who is in active addiction.”

I can’t take that much time off from work.

Employee talking with his boss.

This is a pretty common reason that someone may give. However, thanks to FMLA laws (Family Medical Leave Act), if a person has been at their job for at least 12 months and has worked a minimum of 1,250 hours, then they will most likely be entitled to up to 12 weeks of medical leave.

Addiction rehabilitation is a qualifying condition for this benefit. If a person does not have FMLA benefits then it would be worth looking into other options. Many jobs have Employee Assistance Programs and most employers will be supportive of a person’s decision to seek treatment.

A person who is living a life of sobriety is a much more productive team member than a person who is in active addiction.

I can’t be away from my children for that long.

This is a very difficult one and understandably so. Most people do not want to leave their children for good reason. It is helpful to emphasize in this situation that a person will be a much better parent if they handle their addiction than if they don’t.

The active addiction of a parent can have a lifelong negative impact on their child, so it is important to take care of the problem as soon as possible.

In some cases, the addiction may be so severe that if something isn’t done to take care of the problem, the parent runs the risk of having their children taken away.

When looking at the situation logically, it becomes apparent that it would be better to be away for a few months to get one’s life back on track than it would be to continue in active addiction and run the risk of having one’s children taken away.

My spouse can’t have me away for that long.

Any addiction can destroy a marriage. While it can be difficult to be away from one’s spouse for a few months while going to addiction treatment, it is better than allowing addiction to continue.

The very nature of addiction leads to broken trust and, for this reason, the longer an addiction continues, the more damage it will cause. The more damage that is caused, the harder it will be to repair it all. If a person wants to keep their marriage, they need to address their addiction.

Man frustrated with a bills to pay.

I have too many bills to pay.

Everyone has bills to pay, but the longer an addiction continues, the harder it will be to stay on top of paying them.

A good solution to this is to sit down, figure out a budget and cut out any non-essentials. Put a freeze on gym memberships and non-essential accounts. If possible, see if some family members would be willing to pool together to help take care of things while the person is in treatment and, if needed, work out a repayment plan.

I need to stay home to take care of my house and my pets.

See if a friend or relative can take care of any pets during the treatment process. Have someone check in on the house and clean it every once in a while if no one will be living there while the person is away. People can also work out a schedule to rotate on who takes care of what, for how long.

I don’t want to spend the holidays in rehab.

Spending the holidays or having a loved one in rehab over the holidays can be disappointing— but it sure beats having someone drunk, high or overdosing at home instead. Spending a few holidays in treatment to ensure you can be fully present for the rest of the holidays in your life is worth it, and most treatment facilities will allow family visitations.

I don’t want to miss [name] ’s birthday.

Birthdays are similar to holidays because they are usually important family functions. The best thing a person with an addiction can give themselves or someone they love is their sobriety. What is one missed birthday due to being in treatment compared to a lifetime of missed birthdays due to being locked up or dead?

One of the scariest things an addict can face before recovery is the idea of no longer being able to get high or drunk. This will cause people to say or do just about anything to avoid it. As a family member, the important thing is to hold your ground and not give in. True change takes work.

Next: Breaking through Common Barriers to Treatment: Part 2



After overcoming her own addiction in 2012 Julie went on to become certified as an addiction counselor in order to help others achieve a life of recovery. She worked in the addiction field for 8 years and now uses both her personal and professional experiences with addiction as an influence for her writing.