Denial. It’s a common attribute of people addicted to drugs or alcohol. “I’m not addicted; I only use cocaine when I’m feeling down.” “I have my drinking completely under control.” “Just because I do drugs every day doesn’t mean I’m an addict.” “I don’t need rehab. My drinking isn’t hurting anyone.” Perhaps you’ve said these words, or some variation of them, to yourself or a loved one. Maybe you were once in denial of your addiction, and you didn’t seek help until after hitting rock bottom. You might be in recovery, with memories of your “wake-up call” still vivid in your mind.
But the call that spurs the decision to enroll in an addiction treatment program isn’t the same for everyone. For some people, it happens after losing something that can be replaced, like money, but for others, it occurs after losing something irreplaceable. Five common occurrences that prompt men and women to seek help for their addiction include:
- Loss of Income: Where there’s an addiction, there’s usually money to fund it, but the cost of addiction often surpasses the funds to afford it. It’s common for individuals who abuse drugs or alcohol to miss work, often days at a time. Some even come to work high or drunk. Both scenarios can result — and have resulted — in termination. In other cases, those who use drugs or alcohol might borrow money from loved ones to maintain their addiction, lying about what the money is needed for. But after a while, the lies and loans expire. Regardless of how someone loses their income, addiction can leave them broke and unable to pay their bills, forcing them to admit they have a problem before suffering an even greater loss.
- Loss of Home: Many people who are addicted to drugs or alcohol use a large portion of their income on their substance of choice to the point that they can afford nothing else. As a result, they may fall behind on their rent or mortgage and eventually lose their apartment or home, leaving them on the streets or living in their cars. Homelessness and substance abuse often go hand in hand. According to the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s 2016 Annual Homelessness Assessment Report, of the people who experience homelessness, approximately 202,297 have a severe chronic substance use disorder or serious mental illness. Losing the roof over your head is certainly a major loss, and for many men and women, it’s the wake-up call they need to make a change.
- Loss of Relationships: Many people who are addicted tend to withdraw from family, friends and social gatherings in exchange for time with their substance(s). Some dodge loved ones to avoid questions, suspicions or admonishment regarding their substance use. But for many, the addiction is no secret, and the loved ones are desperate for their friend or relative to get help. They may have a front seat to the toll of the addiction and establish ultimatums that begin with, “If you don’t stop using, I’m going to …” in response. Many individuals in recovery can attest to this; they made the decision to enroll in rehab only after their spouse left or threatened to leave them.
- Loss of Life: There have been countless stories of individuals who accidentally killed someone while they were high or drunk. Most stories involve a fatal car crash while others involve a lethal gunshot wound. Sadly, some of these stories involve entire families that lost their lives. In some cases, the victims are relatives of the person responsible. A recent account involves a 34-year-old New York father who was driving drunk on Halloween with his two children in the car. With a 0.14 blood alcohol level, he hit a tree, which killed his 6-month-old daughter. He now faces up to 10 counts, including felony vehicular manslaughter.
- Hospitalization: According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, there were nearly 4.6 million drug-related emergency room visits nationwide in 2009. Forty-five percent of those visits involved drug abuse. In the same year, approximately 32 percent (658,263) of all drug abuse ER visits involved alcohol, either alone or with another drug. Many of these cases occurred after weeks or months of addiction. Drug-related symptoms that can land someone in the hospital, such as those related to overdose, can be dangerous and painful. For many people, these symptoms, being hospitalized, and having a near-death experience is enough to make them say, “I’ve hit rock bottom,” and get treatment.
When you hit rock bottom, the only way to go is up. The next steps involve admitting you need help, seeking it, and doing what’s necessary to receive it (enrolling in rehab, etc.). But you don’t have to wait until you get to this point before seeking treatment; you can get help now for your addiction. If you’re struggling with drug or alcohol addiction, call The Recovery Village to speak with someone who knows what you’re going through. Lines are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, whether you’re ready to enroll, want more information, or just need a listening ear.