It’s human nature to put off doing the things we know we should do but don’t much enjoy. It could be as simple as answering a list of emails, or bigger projects like cleaning out the garage or finally getting to the gym and starting a workout regimen.
For people who abuse alcohol or other drugs, denial and procrastination can keep them from getting the help they need. In the last few months of the year, many lean on the “not-during-the-holidays” excuse to put drug rehab on the back-burner. For both the addict and the people who care about them, this is a decision fraught with peril.
“To have a better holiday, get your relative into treatment now,” said David Sack, MD, chief medical officer of Elements Behavioral Health. “Help them make that difficult choice before the holidays and then everyone can rest easier and have a happier and healthier holiday season.”
Here are four reasons to end the foot-dragging and put your focus during this most wonderful time of the year on yourself and your sobriety. Every day an addict is active in their addiction is a day of joy, peace and prosperity lost.
- Why dig a deeper hole for yourself? You’re already suffering from the effects of substance abuse. Maybe your job is at risk because you’ve called in sick or showed up late too many times, or you’ve come frighteningly close to ruining your relationships with the people you hold most dear. Perhaps you’re feeling depressed and anxious as a result of the brain changes that come with heavy drug or alcohol use. These problems won’t resolve themselves. Something has to change. Before you lose your job, get help. Before you are given the ultimatum by family members to get sober or get out, get help. After all, when you’ve harmed a relationship to such a point, restoring it becomes far more difficult.
- You won’t become a statistic. Maybe you’ve had a DUI in the past or have driven home from a holiday party with no recollection of your journey. You made it back in one piece and didn’t hurt anyone else, but will you be as fortunate the next time? Don’t roll the dice. That next time could be the end of you and anyone you hit. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 40% of traffic fatalities during Christmas and New Year’s involve a drunk driver.
- Overdose is always a threat. If someone you care about is addicted to alcohol or other drugs, putting off talking to them about treatment until the holidays are over is a big miscalculation. “Around the holidays, a lot of families will procrastinate taking any measure to get a loved one into treatment,” Dr. Sack said. “They take sort of a wait-and-see approach — ‘we want to spend the holidays together so let’s not do anything now.’ The problem is that someone who is using drugs and alcohol is not safe. We’re in the middle of an opioid epidemic where more people are dying from drug overdoses than car accidents.” Getting a loved one into treatment now will buoy everyone’s spirits and help keep them safe and healthy for holiday seasons yet to come.
- You will build a support network in drug rehab. Many people turn to substances because they are lonely. While an addict may find a sense of contentment at the bottom of a bottle, their relief is short-lived. Getting drunk or high may seem to help for a while, but when the effects of those substances wear off, you’re no better off and may feel even worse. The good news is that you can build a solid support network in recovery. Some people in recovery say they’ve made lifelong friends with those they met in drug rehab. And by joining a recovery fellowship, you will automatically get to meet a bunch of new people. You won’t find a more welcoming, nonjudgmental group on the planet. Better still, these new friends will support you in your sobriety as you return the favor.
Experts say procrastination is a symptom of a fear of failure or of being controlled, a kind of shield that protects us from taking actions that may result in our having to confront painful feelings and unresolved problems. The decision to enter drug rehab isn’t easy, but it’s not one that you’ll ever look back on with regret. And the only thing that will be controlled is that monkey on your back.