One of the most common feelings expressed by those who have completed treatment and continued to develop in their recovery is this, “I wish I would have done this sooner.” Too often, those struggling with addiction come to a point where they know that they need help, but they put it off because it’s not a good time. Maybe it’s a particularly busy time at work, or a family member is getting married, or the holidays are coming up. All of these obligations can seem like good reasons to wait. It may even feel selfish to go to treatment now when all these other people are depending on you. This line of thinking could not be further from the truth. Below, experienced addiction experts weigh in on why now is the right time to start your recovery.
Willingness is a Gift
When Director of Operations Michael Maddaloni, BSW, reflects on his personal journey to sobriety, he describes the day he reached out for help as a gift.
“Throughout my time drinking, there weren’t many moments of clarity. My thinking was delusional; I couldn’t see how bad things had gotten, and as a result, I still felt like I could fix everything on my own. Occasionally, the fog would lift for a moment and I would recognize that I needed help. But I could always find a good reason not to take action immediately. And without fail, that window of willingness would slam shut. The delusion would set back in. I’d tell myself I was making too big a deal about nothing. And I would put myself and the people around me through more pain. I realize now that the day that I finally had enough willingness to reach out for help was an instance of grace. If I hadn’t accepted that gift that day, I don’t know if I would have gotten another chance.”
Addiction is a Progressive Disease
Over longer periods, untreated addiction and alcoholism never get better. The addict may be able to cut back for a period or stop using entirely for some amount of time when they experience the consequences of their use. But once they return to using, things will quickly get as bad as ever and then worse. This is the progressive nature of addiction. Unfortunately many individuals who decide to put off treatment until a later time don’t get a second opportunity. Some tragically lose their lives to overdose, while others deteriorate mentally and physically until they lose their job and insurance coverage. In the meantime, relationships and families are further damaged. By the time somebody caught in this tailspin decides they are ready to receive help, they may no longer have the means or support required to get it.
Help Yourself so You Can Help Others
As mentioned above, the most common reasons people put off going to treatment are obligations to others. For many, it’s loyalty to their employer and not wanting to let their coworkers down. While this is an admirable thought, the truth is that your bosses and coworkers will be just fine in your very temporary absence.
For others, it’s not the obligation to the job itself, but the responsibility to provide financially for their families. In this situation, there is almost always somebody willing to help if you can muster the humility to ask. Perhaps a sympathetic landlord will give you an extension on the rent, or friends and family members can provide small loans or donations. In addition, many will be eligible to receive at least partial payment while in treatment via short-term disability.
The bottom line is that while you think you are serving others by placing their needs above your own, you really aren’t. Your job deserves the best employee you can be. Your family deserves the best person you can be. And both of these things require you to be sober and in control of your physical and mental health. So prioritize your family and your job in the long term by prioritizing your recovery in the short term. Today is the day; don’t wait.