Have you ever thought to yourself, “If my addicted loved one would just reach out for help, things would get better…?”
The problem with this thinking is that there are many emotional barriers that can get in the way of the treatment process. Understanding them can help you empathize with someone you care about who is in this situation. Learning about the emotional barriers to recovery can also help you recognize the difference between someone having a bad day and signs that something more serious is amiss.
Emotional Barriers to Addiction Treatment and Recovery
Addiction is a complicated brain disease. As it progresses, it changes the way an affected person thinks and makes decisions. A person in the throes of a full-blown addiction can’t choose whether she is going to use her drug of choice. No matter what else happens, the addiction always comes first.
Emotional barriers to addiction recovery occur because addiction is a chronic disease. When your loved one goes to treatment, they don’t emerge from the process magically cured. Instead, the goal of drug and alcohol treatment is to give clients the tools they need to learn how to live in recovery one day at a time.
No one ever plans to become an addict. Some of the stigma around addiction has been lifted, but there is still a certain amount of shame associated with substance abuse disorders. People who become dependent on drugs and/or alcohol will typically try to hide the fact from family, friends, their employer, and doctor. They may even try to hide it from themselves by denying that they have a problem.
Guilt and shame often go together in our minds. Like the two ugly stepsisters in Cinderella, it can be hard to separate them. If shame is other people knowing about the addiction and responding negatively, guilt is the personal act of feeling bad about one’s actions.
Guilt can make your loved one feel as if he is a lost cause and beyond hope. Even during times when he is sober, he may not want to talk about getting help because he feels bad about the stress his substance abuse has placed on others. He might even believe he doesn’t deserve the help to get sober.
Addicts know that the first stage in getting treatment is to undergo detox. Aside from any concerns about physical withdrawal symptoms, the idea of living without the thing that has been used as a main coping strategy is scary.
Since recovering addicts can feel they aren’t trustworthy, it can be difficult for them to open up to trust others. It’s also a good way to avoid getting their hopes up, in case they go to treatment and everything doesn’t work out exactly as planned. Cynicism is an attitude that hides this feeling very well and prevents others from getting close, including a counselor, sponsor, or group therapy members.
After someone has been in recovery for a time, they may feel as though they have a good handle on things. The recovering addict may start to become arrogant, thinking that she knows best how to manage her recovery.
Displays of arrogance mean conditions are ripe for denial to come into the picture. As soon as your loved one starts to think she no longer has to be vigilant about preserving her recovery, she runs the risk of a slip or a full-on relapse.
Drug and Alcohol Treatment at The Aviary Recovery Center
The Aviary Recovery Center offers a full range of drug and alcohol treatment programs to meet our clients’ needs, including residential treatment, intensive outpatient treatment (IOP), and a family wellness program.