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Should I Delay Treatment until after the Holidays?

The holidays might seem like a perfect excuse to delay treatment once again. The sad truth is, most substance abusers find the holidays their worst time of year. Family dynamics, high expectations, and all the liquor-fueled celebrations can often bring their substance abuse to a head. If your substance abuse has ruined family holiday events in the past and nothing has changed, you can expect similar problems this year. Getting treatment now could mean years of better holidays in the future.

Choosing to go to a treatment center can be an overwhelming decision, and many people who finally get treatment will tell you they delayed it because:

1. They couldn’t imagine life without alcohol or drugs, and they knew treatment would mean they had to face that sometimes terrifying possibility
2. They were too embarrassed to admit they couldn’t deal with the problem on their own
3. They were afraid their employer or colleagues would find out and they would lose respect

The first reason is extremely important. It is critical to recognize that treatment gives you tools and a foundation for sobriety. Of course you can’t imagine not drinking today – you have no tools to achieve that. Overcoming this objection to treatment requires a leap of faith – maybe there is a different way of living and treatment will help you find that way.

The second reason is understandable – many people with addiction issues tend to have very high expectations of themselves. It feels like failure to admit you need help. However, asking for help is a sign of health. Sometimes we just can’t fix things ourselves. If you broke your leg you wouldn’t expect to be able to fix it yourself. Addiction is a far more serious and complicated problem – there is no shame in seeking professional help.

The third reason can be overcome through understanding your rights. Alcoholism is protected under the American with Disabilities Act. No employer would fire you for seeking treatment, and in fact, cannot. However, if you continue working while drinking and using drugs, they may absolutely have grounds to fire you. You are more protected by getting treatment and being in recovery than you are if you continue to use substances.

Respect is something that must be earned, and if you have enough of an issue to require treatment, chances are your colleagues already know you have a problem. By addressing your substance abuse and changing your behavior, you will earn real respect.

Posted on November 21st, 2010

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