Let’s be frank: No one wakes up and thinks it’s a good day to go to drug rehab.
The reluctance of going to rehab was even memorialized in a song: “Rehab,” by the late R&B singer Amy Winehouse, who crooned, “They tried to make me go to rehab, I said ‘no, no, no …” Just as no one sets out to become a full-blown addict or alcoholic, those who endure that hellish existence often consider addiction treatment as a last resort.
Much of that reluctance can be attributed to the distorted thought process that accompanies the diseases of alcoholism and addiction, as well as the stigma that society still puts on those who suffer. Many addicts and alcoholics think, “Why should I go to rehab? I can get on top of this. Surely I can quit on my own.”
And in the interests of full disclosure, some do. Many others take advantage of 12 Step programs or religious organizations to find recovery. But one of the diagnostic criteria for substance use disorder — the scientific term for addiction — is “a persistent desire or unsuccessful effort to cut down or control use of the substance,” according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, so even though some addicts and alcoholics may want to stop, and may even try to stop, they’re often unable to do so without help.
Who actually goes to rehab?
But while the drug and alcohol treatment industry seems to be booming — at least, if you go by late-night infomercials and marketing efforts by the facilities themselves — there’s always a shortage of beds for those in need. Consider the following information gathered for the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration:
- In 2015, “an estimated 21.7 million people aged 12 or older” — roughly 8.1 percent of the population — “needed substance use treatment in the past year.” That breaks down, according to the NSDUH, to 1.3 million adolescents (ages 12-17), 5.4 million young people (ages 18 to 25) and 15 million adults ages 26 and older. To put it another way, “about 1 in 20 adolescents, 1 in 6 young adults, and 1 in 14 adults aged 26 or older were classified to be in need of substance use treatment in the past year.”
- However: Only 2.3 million people ages 12 and older “who needed substance use treatment received (it) as a specialty facility in the past year.” In other words, less than 11 percent of the 21.7 million people who needed addiction treatment actually received it.
Why is that? A number of reasons, primarily financial. By and large, addicts and alcoholics aren’t exactly flush with the income necessary to pay for a stay at a drug and alcohol treatment center. In many cases, they’ve lost jobs, meaning whatever health insurance they might have had is gone, and any medical expenses — like treatment costs — will have to be paid out of pocket.
But there are many individuals who need help but simply don’t want to go, despite having the resources — their own, their insurance or the willingness of family members to pitch in — needed to get help. And if you’re one of those people, you might still be asking …
Why should you go to rehab?
If you’ve made it this far, it’s probably likely that niggling voice in the back of your head is whispering that you do, in fact, need help. That you can’t do it on your own. That rehab is probably a wise choice. But just in case you’re trying to shush those inner thoughts, let us help you with a few reasons you should stop fighting and call for help.
- You have insurance — use it! If you have a life-threatening physical injury, you’re not going to hesitate about going to the emergency room and getting treatment to save your life, are you? You’re not going to think, “Well, I don’t want to pay a deductible” — especially if you have a piece of rebar through your stomach or a hand that’s been mangled by a lawnmower blade. Why? Because those are visceral, physical injuries that your brain recognizes as requiring immediate attention. With addiction, the injuries are less overt, so it doesn’t seem to be as urgent of an issue. However …
- It will kill you. In 2017 alone, 70,237 people died of drug overdoses, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — more than the soldiers killed in action during the entire Vietnam War. Furthermore, the CDC reports, alcohol-related deaths killed 88,000 people per year between 2006 and 2010.
- You’ll find your tribe. While it may seem like the answer to addiction is abstinence, recovery teaches its members that in actuality, the solution is community. If your problem has become noticeable to people in your life who care about you, they may have suggested you “go to one of those meetings” — meaning Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous. That’s well and good, and those “meetings” can certainly help, but a good rehab provides an entry point into that process: “In Twelve-Step Facilitation, the therapist actively probes and nudges, encouraging not only attendance, but participation, in meetings; it explains the potential benefits of working with a sponsor and promotes the individual developing a relationship with a sponsor; it explores problems or psychological resistances to attendance, participation, actual ‘working the steps,’ and the development of a sponsor-sponsee relationship; and it opens the door to ‘AA-related activities’ such as volunteer service to one’s AA ‘home group’ or AA ‘clubhouse’ and involvement with AA-related social events, retreats, and local and state conventions,” according to the American Society of Addiction Medicine.
- You’ll save money. That may seem ludicrous on the surface, given the “sticker shock” associated with the cost of alcohol and drug treatment, but let’s take a look at some numbers:
(a) According to a 2016 report by the Surgeon General, “the yearly economic impact of substance misuse is $249 billion for alcohol misuse and $193 billion for illicit drug use.” That’s a total of $442 billion.
(b) However: The total population of the United States is only 327.2 million people. So that $442 billion cost averages out to roughly $1,350 per person — man, woman and child — in America.
(c) If we can assume that children aren’t paying that cost, that figure goes up exponentially. And since those are simply societal costs incurred by the country’s health care, criminal justice and business organizations, they don’t even include the off-the-books costs that addicts and alcoholics pay out of pocket for their drugs and alcohol.
(d) See where we’re going with this? You’re already paying $1,350 per year … but probably a lot more, when your personal expenditures for drugs and drink are factored in.
- Going to drug rehab is, for the most part, a voluntary commitment. Going to jail is not. It’s a given that the more you drink and use, the greater your chances are of being arrested. According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, “approximately 60 % of individuals arrested for most types of crimes test positive for illegal drugs at arrest,” and “37 % of almost 2 million convicted offenders currently in jail, report that they were drinking at the time of their arrest.”
- You might save your relationships. In a 2013 article in the publication Live Science, a summary of an study published in the journal “Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research” reveals that “The risk of divorce is estimated to be tripled when (one spouse’s) level [of] drinking is low and the (other spouse’s) drinking is heavy, compared with couples where both drink lightly,” according to one of the researchers. You may already been keenly aware of how your relationships with loved ones have deteriorated because of your addiction or alcoholism, and if so, we’ve got bad news: Unless you do something about it, it’s only going to get worse. That’s where rehab can help. Quality programs not only provide individual therapy for patients but family therapy for loved ones affected by alcoholism and addiction as well. There’s a reason they’re referred to as “family diseases” — everyone suffers when one person’s affliction becomes a tornado of chaos, disruption, dishonesty and betrayal.
- You’ll be safely, comfortably detoxed from the substances to which you’re addicted. If you’ve tried to quit on your own, you know full well that withdrawal can be agony. Some drugs, like opiates, are excruciatingly painful to withdraw from. Others, like meth or cocaine, have more of a psychological effect during the withdrawal process, but they’re equally as maddening. And some, like benzodiazepines and alcohol, can pose life-threatening risks without medical supervision. An addiction treatment facility with a Medical Detox program will provide you with professional support around the clock, comfort medication to ease the pain of withdrawal and a support system that helps you get back on your feet while your body purges itself of the toxins that have been poisoning you for so long.
- You’ll have an opportunity to deal with the reasons you drink and use in the first place. If you’re an addict or an alcoholic, there’s something going on mentally and emotionally that keeps you returning to these substances, even in the face of negative consequences. To that end, rehab isn’t about the substances themselves; it’s about discovering and addressing the reasons you keep going back to them, time and time again, even though you know they’re destroying your life. Perhaps there’s unresolved trauma from your childhood. Maybe the death of a loved one has left you in a semi-permanent state of depression. Maybe there are undiagnosed psychiatric issues that are driving you to subconsciously self-medicate. Rehab will allow you to explore all facets of your life so that you can stop using drugs and alcohol as anesthesia for the mental, emotional, physical and spiritual pain you live with on a daily basis, address the root causes of that pain and learn to let go or cope with healthy living skills.
- You’ll live longer. Seriously. The journal Preventive Medicine published a comprehensive study a decade ago of more than 500 heroin users in California who were monitored over a 25-year period, from 1962 to 1997. The average age of death? 47. A study of individuals diagnosed with alcohol use disorder — the medical term for alcoholism — in Denmark, Sweden and Finland revealed that “life expectancy was 24–28 years shorter … than in the general population.” Addiction and alcoholism aren’t conducive to long and productive lives.
- You’ll discover a new way of life. Living with addiction and alcoholism isn’t truly “living,” per se: It’s existing. You spend your days and nights feeling like a shadow on the wall, while everyone around you goes to work and enjoys leisure time with family and does the things that once brought your pleasure but now seem impossibly out of reach. If you’re constantly worried about where your next drink or fix is coming from, you’re never able to be present, to live in a single moment, without fear of running out, of getting sick, of not having the substance your body and mind craves.
Recovery, which you’ll discover through rehab, doesn’t just give you your life back — because even before many of us started drinking and using, we were unhappy. No, recovery gives us a whole new way to live, with a fresh perspective and a renewed outlook and an ability to accept life on life’s terms.
So why go to rehab? Because it’s not the end of the road; it’s the beginning of a new journey. And the alternatives can be bleak: That singer who said “no, no, no” to going? She died of alcohol poisoning at the age of 27.
That doesn’t have to be you. Pick up the phone, call today and pack your bags. It’s time to get busy living.