The High Cost of Delaying Addiction Treatment

“Addiction treatment is too expensive.” “It takes too much time.” “Rehab doesn’t work.” Perhaps you’ve heard those excuses from a loved one – or made them yourself – when it comes to finally getting help for an addiction. Sadly, there are so many myths that enable addicts to put off recovery again…and again…again. But the truth is, the cost of avoiding treatment for a serious alcohol or drug addiction is extremely high. In fact, some people who don’t get help end up paying the ultimate price: their own life. So what do you give up when you say “not today” to addiction treatment? What are the potential costs of each delay?

Delaying treatment destroys relationships.

From heated arguments to physical fights, addiction makes its mark on the important relationships in your life. It affects every single person you love, including parents, partners, kids, and friends. Alcohol addiction and drug abuse triggers lies, dishonesty, and alienation. The addicted family member often shirks their daily responsibilities, leaving others to take on the tasks and cover for their partner. The result is a recipe for anger and resentment. If you’re a parent, drug addiction and alcohol abuse will have a lasting negative impact on your children – one that can last for generations. Domestic violence is all-too-often another lasting legacy of substance abuse, one capable of destroying lives and even entire families. Research suggests a strong relationship between substance abuse and violence in the home. For example, about 60% of abusers have problems with addiction, according to a report from The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. They also report that domestic violence offenders often say that their abuse of alcohol impairs their ability to control their behavior.[1] Some relationships can heal in the aftermath of addiction, but that healing cannot begin until the addicted person enters a recovery or treatment program. If you’re mired in addiction, you’ll need to start working on the disorder before you can work toward rebuilding the important relationships in your life. Ask yourself, “Is delaying addiction treatment worth destroying my relationships with the people I love?”

Delaying treatment hurts your body.

Anyone who has had one too many drinks knows that alcohol has clear and immediate physical effects, from slurred speech to faltering balance. However, long-term alcohol addiction does have serious-and life-threatening-physical consequences. Nearly 100,000 Americans die every year from alcohol abuse.[2] Your liver, which processes everything you consume, often bears the brunt of long-term alcohol abuse. The impact on this vital organ is serious and may include hepatitis (inflammation), cirrhosis (scarring), and liver cancer. And while many of us associate liver damage with alcohol abuse, the disorder takes its toll on other organs as well. For example, long-term alcohol abuse creates a thiamine (vitamin B1) deficiency, which prevents the brain from functioning properly. Left untreated, the addiction can trigger paralysis of the eyes, problems with coordination, memory difficulties, and permanent brain damage. Long-term alcohol addiction also triggers a host of other ailments, including chronic pancreatitis, which is a painful inflammation of the pancreas. Numerous studies have also linked alcohol abuse to increased risk for many types of cancers, including breast, esophagus, stomach, and pancreatic cancer. Drug addiction presents its own set of physical dangers, from an elevated heart rate to an increase in blood pressure. However, an addiction to drugs also includes the very real risk of seizures, brain damage, and death. If you’re once again pushing aside the idea of treatment, ask yourself, “Is getting high or drunk worth my own life?”

Delaying treatment destroys your reputation and credibility.

There’s no question that the last several years have been tough on the job market and businesses. This makes more crucial than ever to maintain a professional identity that conveys your reliability as an employee or your ability to deliver products or services to clients. Putting off addiction treatment creates more opportunities for damage to your reputation; it’s yet another chance to show up late, drop the ball on a contract, or cause an accident on the job. Before you decide to delay treatment again, ask yourself, “Is addiction worth the price of ruining my credibility?”

Delaying treatment hurts others.

Even when an addict is at their lowest point they still tend to believe that they’re in control. But the reality is that they’re not in control at all. Sadly, that loss of control hurts others. In fact, an estimated 28 Americans – that’s 28 fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, and best friends – die every day in motor vehicle accidents due to drunk driving.[3] Driving under the influence of drugs is a serious problem as well. One study found that approximately 13% of adults between the ages of 18 and 25 have driven under the influence of illicit drugs. Every time you get behind the wheel while you’re intoxicated, you take a very serious risk. Not only are your endangering the lives of your family and friends who are passengers, but also the lives of everyone else who happens to be sharing the road (whether in a vehicle, on a bicycle, or as a pedestrian) while you’re driving. If you’re considering putting off addiction treatment yet again, ask yourself, “Is my addiction worth hurting or killing another human being? Do I really want to put my child, friend, or family member (or someone else’s loved one) at risk?”

Delaying treatment can be very expensive.

Addicts spend money, sometimes several times a day, to buy wine, beer, or drugs. But the financial price of untreated alcohol abuse or drug addiction can be much higher. Consider just some of the costs you could face if you continue to delay recovery:

  • Lower paychecks because of lost time at work
  • Losing income entirely from loss of a job
  • Delay or inability to find a new job
  • Medical costs related to injuries, due, for example, to falling down a stairway or breaking a glass in your hand
  • Higher deductibles or insurance premiums due to addiction-related injuries or car accidents
  • Legal costs connected to DUIs or drug-related offenses
  • Court fines related to alcohol or drug convictions

Can you afford to delay treatment for one minute longer?

It’s never easy to take that first step and ask for help with an addiction, but the cost of putting off addiction treatment is just too high. An addiction to alcohol or drugs will destroy all the things that make life worth living, including relationships, careers, physical health, and emotional well-being. Don’t keep making excuses. If you have a problem, seek treatment for your addiction today. To quote Picasso: “Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone.”

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