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What is the greatest barrier to treatment?

Great question. There are several in the top tier. Shame is the biggest obstacle, and that is internal. The shame associated with drug or alcohol dependence is very different from that of having another medical illness such as an ear infection. The fear is “what will people think?” Many people, including addicted individuals, see alcohol or drug use as a choice. It may start that way, as anyone may have a glass of wine or can of beer. However, only for the genetically and situationally vulnerable does it become a problem. So, challenge the shame by knowing you didn’t intend to become an alcoholic or addict when you first experimented. We don’t blame diabetics, asthmatics, nor those with depression and heart disease. Shame makes someone feel rotten on the inside, and to believe that there is something especially bad and hopeless about themselves. None of that is true, but part of the illness talking.

Denial is another barrier, and it was discussed in another article. Sometimes the denial is so pervasive, nearly the entire family system or work environment is wearing blinders to the truth. Perhaps someone is getting treatment for all sorts of medical conditions, some mysterious, many chronic, and none seeming to improve for long. Perhaps someone who used to be a conscientious student, homemaker, or employee has really been having one unfortunate accident and misunderstanding after another. Start to consider drug or alcohol abuse or dependence, and get these evaluated.

Misinformation is the other barrier. Drug and alcohol treatment work. They are very cost effective. They are available. There is hope. And no, you do not have to hit bottom to have treatment work. Health insurance companies as well as the county and state have special funding for treating these health conditions. As always, write with your questions. Watch the WYNK flash videos for more education.

by: Lois Cochrane Schlutter, Ph.D. L.P.

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