Overcoming Barriers To Addiction Treatment
Each year, tens of millions of Americans who need treatment for a substance abuse disorder do not receive it. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH, 2013), an estimated 22.7 million persons in the United States age 12 and older required treatment, but less than 11% actually received it at a specialized center.
There are still many barriers that prevent people who need treatment from seeking or undergoing care. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) used data from 2010 to 2013 for the report to try to determine the roots of the disparity.
People who knew they should seek treatment provided the following reasons why they did not obtain it:
- Forty-three percent said they were not prepared to quit using
- Thirty-one percent stated they had no health coverage and financial difficulties
- More than 20% feared they would encounter effects in their work environment (10.7%) or among neighbors, friends, and community (10.1%)
- Nine percent were unsure where to receive treatment
- Eight percent stated that programs did not provide the treatment they needed
Among those battling with addiction who felt they needed treatment and actively sought it, there were similar obstacles. Treatment was not rendered after an effort to receive it for the following reasons:
- Thirty-seven said the treatment was cost-prohibitive
- Twenty-four percent stated they were not ready to abstain
- Nine percent said they were unsure where to receive treatment
- More than 16% said health insurance did not cover costs (8.2%) or that treatment was inconvenient or that they did not have reliable transportation (8%)
Substance use disorder is a chronic disease that usually requires specialized treatment to maintain sobriety and experience a long-term, successful recovery. Obstacles to treatment can often be overcome if you have this willingness to regain your life.
Motivation – Are You Prepared?
When someone realizes that she or he has a problem and needs helps is the first step to receiving treatment – denial is often the main barrier that people face. They may believe that treatment is not necessary or not effective, or it may be something internal, an emotional need to continue using that prevents people from admitting that they should seek treatment.
Long-term drug or alcohol use results in chemical changes in the brain’s reward system and impacts motivation. The abuse of substances can dull emotions and feelings of pain, also induces temporary feelings of well-being.
Addiction develops as the brain builds both a psychological and physical attachment or dependency on the substance(s).
Upon cessation, withdrawal symptoms occur, which are often highly unpleasant and in rare cases, life-threatening. People who experience withdrawals are often not equipped to break the bond with drugs or alcohol and relapse to avoid the conflicting feelings associated with attainment and maintenance of sobriety.
When a person is not able to find the internal motivation to seek treatment, assistance in the form of intervention may be useful. Family and friends of those who suffer from addiction may employ the services of a professional interventionist to help someone they love to understand there is a dire need for treatment.
Rock bottom isn’t always the case for someone who has a substance use disorder to realize they have a problem. Quite often, the help of an outside motivator is necessary to foster the intrinsic need for treatment. This instigator may come in the form of a close friend or family member, or be adverse life effects such as the loss of a job, relationship, or legal troubles.
Insurance and Financial Barriers
Addiction treatment is not typically free of cost and can be seen as unattainable financially. Sometimes this is a misconception, as many health insurers cover at least some of substance abuse treatment.
The Affordable Health Care Act (ACA) made health insurance accessible to more people and includes addiction treatment as one of the essential benefits under the ten elements of coverage. As of 2014, all health insurers were required to include treatment for substance abuse, and persons cannot be denied coverage for a preexisting condition.
Plans do vary in the type and duration of treatment covered, so if you are seeking help be sure to check for requirements with your provider.
Also, many states and counties offer free addiction treatment for those who are covered under Medicaid or cannot afford insurance. Some centers offer sliding scales, payment plans, or scholarships based on eligibility requirements.
Keep in mind that treatment, if it can be obtained, will likely save you money over the long-term. Addiction is a huge financial burden, and costs over time include the substance(s) itself, legal fees, divorce, health problems, etc. In fact, according to Everyday Health, the price of addiction may be as much as seven times more than the cost of an effective substance abuse treatment program.
Overcoming the Stigma
Unfortunately, a stigma surrounding substance abuse still exists, especially for those who admit they have a problem and come forward to seek treatment.
For these persons, many centers have family therapy available to help the loved ones of those suffering understand that addiction should be treated as a disease, not a moral failing.
Workplace stigma may be unavoidable, but consider how that asking for help and receiving treatment will help you far more over the long-run that anything that your co-workers or employer have to say.
Get Help Today
If you or someone you love is abusing substances, please seek treatment as soon as possible. There are many resources available to help you or your loved one.
Please call us today at 888-380-0342 for a free consultation.
~ G. Nathalee Serrels, M.A., Psychology