According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, only about 10 percent of American adults who need specialized help for a substance use disorder actually get treatment. That number is surprisingly low when you consider that there are now more treatment options than ever before as well as more ways to pay for treatment. There is also greater awareness than ever before that addiction is a disease that requires treatment. Why then do so few people seek out and receive professional help for substance use disorders? Here are three common reasons.
They don’t think they have a problem.
By far, the most common reason men don’t seek help for a substance use disorder is that they don’t think they have a problem. Nearly 96 percent of people with substance use issues who didn’t get help said they didn’t think they needed help. Denial and rationalization are powerful forces that keep people trapped in addiction. Often, people with substance use issues grew up in families with substance use issues and they believe their own unhealthy patterns are normal. People with substance use issues also tend to surround themselves with other people with substance use issues. They then judge their own level of substance use by that of their peers and don’t see a big difference. There’s always one person in the crew they can point to and say, “I’m not nearly as bad as him.” Beyond that, there are many ways to rationalize excessive substance use, such as “I’m just under a lot of stress right now,” or “Maybe I do drink a bit too much but I can quit any time. I just don’t want to.”
They’re not ready to stop.
It’s hard for people without substance use issues to understand, but someone with a substance use disorder can be aware their substance use is excessive and that it’s harming their health and lives but still not be ready to quit. It’s important to remember that substance use meets a need for them, even if it’s not apparent to others. For example, many people with substance use issues struggle with mental health issues or trauma and drugs and alcohol can offer temporary relief from painful memories and emotions. For some people, that relief is worth losing a job or getting a DUI. Some people just get a lot of enjoyment from drugs and alcohol and don’t yet feel like the costs outweigh the benefits.
They think they can handle it on their own.
Finally, a lot of guys think they can handle their substance use issues on their own. Men are typically taught from a young age to be self-reliant and solve their own problems. Don’t show pain and don’t complain. Asking for help can be hard. You have to admit there’s a problem you can’t handle on your own. What’s more, dealing with that problem often means confronting unpleasant aspects of yourself and your past and that takes quite a bit of courage. However, no one overcomes addiction alone. It’s always a team effort involving counselors, therapists, family, and sober friends.
When you’re struggling with a substance use disorder, the brave thing to do is ask for help. Tree House Recovery of Portland, Oregon specializes in helping men build better lives, free from addiction. Call today at (503) 850-2474 to learn more about our treatment options.