According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, in 2013, 24.6 million people over the age of 11 had used illicit substances within the previous month. Unfortunately, only 4.1 million of them received treatment that year. Individuals who are suffering from a life of drug or alcohol abuse should seek help as soon as they possibly can. When substance abuse habits are left to fester, they often grow stronger and cross over into full-blown addictions. Treating addiction is generally lengthier and more intensive than addressing substance misuse or abuse.
Why Urgency Matters
The longer someone engages in substance abuse and the earlier they start, the greater the likelihood of serious health consequences or death. A Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs publication noted that even with all shared risk factors being controlled, the risk of drug addiction during the young adult years is higher for individuals who start using drugs earlier in life, before age 13. As soon as someone expresses any openness to getting help, they should be given help.
Individuals who are exhibiting signs of behavior that point toward mental illness or deeper issues beyond the scope of addiction, like psychotic episodes, need immediate treatment. In many cases, these individuals can be admitted to hospital care or rehab facility. The same applies to people who overdose and survive. Overdose is one of the clearest signs that immediate treatment is needed; otherwise, subsequent overdose could lead to death. In 2014, 47,055 people died from a drug overdose, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
That being said, emergency circumstances aren’t required to get into treatment right away, but facilities do generally like to keep a certain amount of space allotted for these cases, which could turn up any time. Waiting for an emergency to occur before seeking out rehab services isn’t the best method either. The theory that someone must hit “rock bottom” before they can receive effective help is an outdated myth.
The biggest reason families need to urge their loved ones into treatment promptly is because they so often change their minds about going. They might admit they have a problem and agree they want to change it today. Tomorrow, they may wake up feeling sick to their stomach and anxious because their body is starting to go through withdrawal. On the heels of these uncomfortable feelings, they use again and decide there’s no way they can go through detox. This scenario plays out in the households of people who abuse drugs and alcohol all the time. But with medical assistance, withdrawal doesn’t have to be severely uncomfortable. Around 80 percent of clients who go through withdrawal in a treatment center detox program use medication to alleviate the discomfort that comes with it, the National Institute on Drug Abuse notes.
Is It Time for Rehab?
In today’s society, substance abuse can often go unnoticed. People drink alcohol every day and celebrate it as a regaled method of self-medication disguised as social interaction. The decriminalization of marijuana has led to more acceptance of its use both medically and recreationally. This is especially true among younger, more impressionable demographics. The International Journal of Drug Policy reported on a study of youths wherein 10 percent who didn’t currently use marijuana said they would try it if it were legal, and 18 percent of youths who have used it said they would use it more often under the same circumstances.
People often see prescriptions drugs in a different light than illicit drugs too. They assume these drugs are safer because doctors wouldn’t prescribe them if they weren’t safe. The Foundation for a Drug-Free World states 50 percent of teens believe they are safer using prescription drugs than illicit street drugs. It’s simply not true.
If substance use has crossed over into abuse or addiction, prompt treatment is needed. According to HelpGuide, signs of addiction include:
- Loss of control over how much or how often substances are used
- Problems in interpersonal relationships
- Loss of interest in activities once enjoyed
- Using substances to avoid withdrawal
- Legal ramifications as a result of substance abuse
- Perpetual use of drugs or alcohol even though detrimental effects are quite apparent
- Neglecting work, school, and family responsibilities
- Engaging in risky behavior when under the influence
- Preoccupation with substance abuse
If you notice these signs in a loved one, it’s time to seek help. If they aren’t willing to seek it out on their own or with the assistance of family, hiring a professional interventionist is the next step. When a professional steps in and carries out the process in the correct way, success rates at getting a loved one into treatment reach as high as 98 percent, per The Fix.
Hurdles to Overcome
Sometimes, there are complications that prevent individuals who need treatment from getting it right away. These may be cost factors, a lack of insurance coverage, or a shortage of beds at a particular facility. Generally, there are ways to overcome these challenges and get immediate help. Oftentimes, treatment centers are able to work out financial arrangements so payment can be feasible for those in need. In other instances, free or low-cost programs may be available. If there is a waiting list for a particular facility, it’s often wise to choose an alternative (a referable from the full facility may be possible).
Regardless of personal circumstances, prompt treatment is always recommended. When a person is willing to accept help, that help should be offered immediately. Oftentimes, new clients can be admitted to treatment immediately, even on the same day if necessary.