I’m Scared to Go to Treatment -- Am I weird?
Whether you’ve decided to get drug and alcohol treatment on your own, have been asked to by your friends and family, or are being whisked off to one following an intervention, treatment is scary. The idea of treatment, where you pack up your life and go spend several weeks to several months away from home for the sole purpose of changing your life and your habits, is intimidating. It’s natural that you’d feel scared. While all of us feel alone, isolated, and “weird”, in these kinds of situations, it’s natural that you’d respond to an incredibly difficult decision with feelings of anxiety and angst.
In fact, there are many things you might be having difficulty with. These commonly include a fear of failure and relapse. What if you really are “born an addict” and no amount of therapy can help? What if people judge you? What if withdrawal and treatment are horrible? What if?
The thing is, those fears will always be present. This article will attempt to tackle some common fears. Because, no matter how it feels, you are not alone, and you aren’t weird. Almost everyone experiences fear and drags their feet before going to treatment. The important thing is that you overcome it, go anyway, and continue to improve your life.
What If People Judge Me?
It’s easy to feel judged, especially in light of substance use disorders. The social stigma around addiction is incredibly high. It’s also problematic. The thing is, people don’t judge you working to get better, they judge that you used to begin with. Some will judge that you can’t just quit “on your own”, but everything we know about medicine tells us that it’s incredibly difficult and dangerous to carry out medical advice on yourself. That’s why we have therapists, psychologists, and addiction recovery clinicians. It’s safer, easier, and more reliable.
While you can’t help what other people think, you can help what you think. You can also suggest some reading material to your friends and family if you’re worried. And, if you’re very worried, going to treatment always allows you to go out where you want, keep things quiet, and talk about it with your friends and family when you have the self-esteem and mental space to do so. There’s no rush and no pressure.
What If I Fail?
You might fail. A certain percentage of people will relapse. But if you don’t go, you fail automatically. And if you relapse stepping out of rehab, there’s nothing stopping you from starting over and trying again. Thomas Edison's famous quote “I found 2,000 ways not to make a lightbulb” is especially salient to individuals with substance use disorder, who often go through multiple periods of trying to quit and failing. You’re not guaranteed to quit, you just have to find the right combination of sticking to it, building your life, working to get yourself into a better place, and giving yourself tools to succeed.
What if I Can’t Start Over?
Treatment is about starting over, that’s true. And that can be intensely scary. Whether you’re fears relate to the fact that you have a stable family and a home and can’t change your environment, the idea that “nature” contributes to addiction, or otherwise think starting over is impossible. That’s fair. But addiction recovery doesn’t have to mean completely changing your life. It just has to mean changing routines, changing habits, investing in mental health and energy, and moving forward. Additionally, while factors you're born with, such as epigenetics, can greatly increase your likelihood of addiction, and they increase risk factors. That doesn’t mean you’ll always be an addict. Recovering from a substance use disorder is about building behavior and habits that contribute towards living a healthy and drug-free life. Factors like genetics, your social conditions, your mental health, etc., make that easier or more difficult, but it’s your choices and the behavior you build which contribute to long-term success.
Essentially, you can always start over, in small ways. And they don’t have to mean making huge, scary changes that require abandoning things you care about or your life. Instead, it’s about building small habits that contribute to a good life. Plus, treatment will help you to do that.
Going to rehab is an important decision. It’s also not an easy decision. But, it will help you to change your life for the better. Taking the step to go to rehab despite your fears is one of the first big steps you make towards claiming your life back and deciding that you are in charge of where and how you are going forward.
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