Why Addicts Avoid Treatment

addicts avoid treatmentSo why do addicts avoid treatment? It is fairly easy to come up with one’s own idea why but if you break it down and really look at the addict’s life, it gets more interesting. Depending on what stage or how far along the addiction is, there will be specific reasons why an addict or alcoholic just refuses to get help. They’re sick and they know they need to change and get help but what keeps them from taking that step? Why avoid treatment when it’s the most obvious choice to everyone else looking in? There are some major factors regarding these questions:

Withdrawal Is Too Painful and Scary

Most chemical addictions are physically addictive and the mere thought of going through a physical withdrawal is a no-no. The withdrawal symptoms are more than what an addict can mentally bear to confront. Opiates like heroin, methadone, vicodin, percocet, and oxycodone are all in this category where the physical withdrawal brings about a seemingly endless array of flu-like symptoms with an overwhelming craving for the opiate and only the opiate to handle the pain. Alcohol falls right in line with this as well as benzodiazepines like Xanax, Lorazepam, and Klonopin, except that these two bring about another scare that the person could very well have a seizure and literally die from the withdrawal. Other addictive drugs like methamphetamines and cocaine won’t typically cause life endangering effects from withdrawal but the mental aspect is too very overwhelming to the adduct. The simple thought of not having the drug anymore is enough to precipitate heavy anxiety and irrational high risk behavior to re-establish the high again.

Drugs and Alcohol Feel Good

The simple fact is that drugs and alcohol feel better than good. That’s why people continue to use them despite the side effects of ingesting them. They all have some kind of unfavorable side effect (lethargy, vomiting, bad taste, burning, anxiety etc) to tolerate and become immune to but once past that hurdle, the dependence starts and then the full blown addiction.

When you have a bad day of work, smoke a joint on the way home or have a few beers. Fight with the girlfriend, go out and do some coke or pop some pills with friends. Chemicals become the go to when things get stressful and they make a person feel better. Also the person doesn’t have to deal with anything when high. Addiction progresses and the stressers become more and more so the intake of drugs and alcohol follow suit. Alcohol and drugs become a problem when a person uses them beyond the point of recreationally. In the end they become what many recovering addicts call their “best friend” or “only friend”. Now someone suggests that they stop using and go to rehab? Not likely to happen in the latter stages of addiction. The only thing that makes the addict feel better is the drugs and/or alcohol.

The Reality of Rehab is too Scary

Most folks addicted to drugs or alcohol either have had their own experiences of trying to get clean in some sort of treatment setting or they at least know someone who has. Considering the company that that an addict will keep in his or her life, the references will not be good. The horror stories I hear as an interventionist of a “friend’s” experiences in rehab are something to write a book on. And 99% of those stories are false either embellished or simply lies to impress each other. Most addicts picture being in a hospital bed for a month in a hospital robe drugged out and shuffling back and forth to group therapy in a Cuckoo’s Nest atmosphere. This doesn’t sound fun to anybody. Then comes the person I’m intervening on who has never set foot in a real treatment facility with all these imagined fears of how horrible it will be. As an interventionist I bring pictures and solid information but more importantly I bring experience of having been there myself. I find that building trust with the struggling addict or alcoholic in front of me is key to developing a line of  communication that they will listen to. Most are scared to death of what they are about to encounter because of other’s horror stories or something they have seen on TV when in reality, they are in for a very nice experience. There are too many great ones out there that well outnumber any that can be considered bad.

Addicts Avoid Treatment Because They Have a System Built

As much as any other reasoning, an addict will avoid treatment because life is under his or her control. Everyone close to him lives their lives to appease or comfort the addict. Nobody wants to make matters worse and upset the addict because he may hurt himself and we may be at fault for that if we push too hard. With depression and anxiety underlying in most cases, families and friends know this and don’t want to rock the boat. We simply leave them alone. Some parents give their kids money to go buy what they need for each day so they don’t go through withdrawal. Why? Because parents have become trained by the addict that something horrible will happen if they don’t. This system is one of many examples but the reality is, why would an addict or alcoholic leave this situation? One, it’s comfortable. The lights are on, there’s a bed to sleep in, food in the fridge, laundry gets done for them and essentially aside from a little argument here and there, everyone leaves them alone to do what? Drugs and alcohol! The system is also something that addicts don’t want exposed. Nobody outside the immediate family is welcome to realize its existence so the addict traps the closest loved ones with shame and embarrassment. If anyone outside the sphere saw it, they would blow the top off of it in a second. This is a huge reason addicts won’t just go to treatment; the fear of this system being exposed and destroyed. It really is unthinkable to the addict that reality will set in and life will have to change. After all, the system took a while to build. This is why interventions have drama. The system is being exposed and crushed right in front of their eyes. If you’re in the middle of one of these systems, step out for a minute and take a look inside if you can. You will see it’s very obvious and very destructive.


If you have someone in your life who needs treatment but just won’t commit, it may be time for an intervention. Give us a call and get a free and confidential consultation to see how we can help you. 8446888555

Leave A Comment