Denial and resistance to change is one of the insidious hallmarks of addiction. It’s not uncommon for addicted individuals to resist getting help and to reject the notion that they need help. You may have heard the phrase, “I’m not going to rehab,” countless times because your loved one truly believes they do not have a problem. And as the sober family member suffering through the devastating behavior brought on by a loved one’s addiction, you might even be in denial yourself, at first. It’s hard to admit that things have gotten so out of control. And if you broach the subject with your family member, they may react badly, look at you as if you have three heads, or say you are the one with the problem. This can lead you to second-guess yourself or feel guilty. Awareness of classic rehab excuses can help you recognize them when a family member tries to deflect the problem or refuses to get help. Try to understand that these are mostly defense mechanisms employed to keep denial going. Rehab excuses are a way to ward off anxiety and to survive the current situation by manipulating reality. Here are the rehab excuses:
- “There’s nothing wrong with me.” Until an alcoholic or addict admits they have a problem, this statement is their reality. In their own mind, everything is truly fine with them. It’s other people who have problems. While this is very frustrating to deal with when you love someone who is sick, it helps to remember it is the disease that is blocking their ability to see the truth.
- I can’t take off from work. It’s a valid concern for many people, but addiction and alcoholism rehabilitation is supported by many companies as a health issue that must be addressed. It may be covered under state law or the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) may also allow for time off for one’s medical needs.
- “I can’t afford it. “ Rehab today is more accessible than ever within the current health insurance climate and it is covered by some health care plans. There are options to be explored and a knowledgeable rehab professional or social worker can help families through this process.
- “My problem isn’t as bad at those ” It’s very common to hear an addicted individual talk about the problem being bigger or worse for others. They often hold themselves up in comparison and build a case for why that person’s problem is worse and say, “I’m not going to rehab” because I don’t really need it – the way those people do. But even if someone’s situation is worse, everyone needs and deserves treatment.
- “I can’t handle detox.” In order to get into rehab people must promise to stop using substances or engaging in their addiction. Alcoholics and drug users in particular are terrified of the prospect of physical withdrawal symptoms. But medical supervision is part of any great rehab program and there are trained professionals to help them through the worst.
You may not be able to force an adult to get help, but you might also find yourself more prepared to deal with their rehab excuses. Sources: Engaging resistant adolescents in drug abuse treatment Useful lies: The twisted rationality of denial Interrater Reliability of the Alcoholism Denial Rating Scale Enhancing motivation for change in treatment-resistant eating disorders A randomized trial of two methods for engaging treatment-refusing drug users through concerned significant others. Does My Employer Have to Give Me Time Off for Rehab ADA Questions SAMHSA Laws and Regulations