Many individuals whose lives could be restored by drug treatment often refuse help or don’t seek it out.  Those who don’t often battle the disease indefinitely, try to stop drug use on their own or eventually die from the accumulated effects of addiction. According to the National Survey on Drug Use Health (NDSUH) in 2012, over 20 million Americans with a drug or alcohol addiction did not receive medical attention at a hospital, mental health facility or drug treatment center. Addiction is a complicated illness, and the path from dependence to sobriety is often fraught with challenges to overcome. Many who avoid going to rehab are either in denial or are afraid of withdrawal symptoms or how they’ll feel once they get there because they don’t remember the last time they were sober.

Five Reasons Why Addicts Avoid Rehab

  1. They don’t believe they need it.  – The NDSUH estimates that at least 90% of addicts do not believe that that need drug treatment.  One of the symptoms of addiction is its ability to impair reasoning abilities.  Brain scans of people with addiction clearly show reduced levels of activation in the prefrontal cortex where rational thought would normally override the impulse-driven behavior that is characteristic of addiction.  As such, addiction causes dysfunction in the ability to be rational or logical, causing most addicts to underestimate the extent of their problem.  For this reason, cognitive behavioral therapy is an important component of most drug rehab programs.  This treatment model, heighten the awareness of cognitive distortions caused by habitual drug use.  Patients going through this gain, among other benefits, the ability to counter self-destructive patterns of behavior with self-preserving ones.
  2. Not ready to stop using Drugs.  Surveys indicate that at least 38% of people who do not seek or receive treatment are simply not ready to stop using drugs.  Although there are many reasons an addict may want to continue using drugs two of the primary reasons have been shown to be fear of facing the reality that drugs help to camouflage and a pervasive drug- induced misconception that abstinence threatens their survival.  This is especially true for functional addicts who see their drug addiction as a recreational choice that they are not ready or willing to abandon.  These addicts typically do not recognize that addiction is a progressive disease with serious accumulating effect.  These individual are also at risk of experiencing a drug overdose as overconfidence and high tolerance levels drive continuous increase in the amount of drugs consumed.
  3. Denial – The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) explains that the fundamental biological component of addiction that causes changes in brain function typically lead to various behavioral consequences. One of those consequences that is inherent in the addiction process is denial.  As long as the addict does not accept the truth of their addiction, they never truly experience the full impact of their disease.  Denial is a lie addicts tell themselves and use to manipulate their loved ones into enabling their disease and continuing to believe that the addiction is a temporary condition that will ultimately remedy itself.  Drug interventions help to stop the denial process by helping addicts to come to grips with the consequences of their substance abuse on themselves and on their family and friends.  As such, drug interventions help to get people battling addiction to recognize their need for treatment.
  4. Fear – The primary fear that cause people to avoid seeking treatment is that they will not be able to sustain sobriety. This fear is often fueled by low self-esteem and for some people, one or more failed attempts to stop drug use.  Many addicts that have developed relationships with other addicts are also afraid of losing those friendships or being criticized for seeking sobriety.  Even when continuing drug use involves serious consequences, these fears can override these concerns and support treatment avoidance activities.  Fear perpetuates the cycles of addiction. The greater the fear the more drugs are needed to drown out the fears.
  5. Misconceptions about Drug Treatment – People in addiction and their loved ones often do not know how to separate fact from fiction when it comes to the cause of habituated drug use, the process of addiction and why drug treatment is so critical to the recovery process.  Most people do not take the time to explore the rehabilitation process or understand that ongoing research into addiction is continually improving the way treatment for addiction is administered and received.  Because of this misconception, many people continue to see treatment as an option rather than a mandate to overcome this debilitating disease.  Many still attempt to halt drug use on their own through the “cold turkey” method which can lead to life-threatening medical complications or death.

These five reasons why addicts avoid rehab are just some of examples of myths and misconceptions of many Americans. All of these avoidance techniques put people at risk.  The NIDA explains that drug treatment helps people stop using the drugs that they are addicted to and provides resources that help them to achieve the ability to stay sober. And, because drug abuse affects people on so many levels in their lives, treatment must be comprehensive and evidence-based to effectively address the bio-medical issues, mental health problems, and all other critical areas of the individual’s life that drug abuse derails.

If you or a loved one needs help with abuse and/or treatment, please call the WhiteSands Treatment at (877) 855-3470. Our addiction specialists can assess your recovery needs and help you get the addiction treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.

About the Author

is a proud alumni member of WhiteSands Treatment. After living a life of chaos, destruction and constant let downs, Mark was able to make a complete turnaround that sparked a new way of life. He is serious about his recovery along with helping others. At WhiteSands Treatment, we offer support to you in your homes or when you are out living in your daily lives.