Pride is one of many obstacles that can get in the way of our decisions regarding detox and treatment. Drug addicts and alcoholics are loaded with it. We don’t want to admit that we couldn’t handle our own problems our own way.
But that’s usually false pride. As is the case with so many forms of denial, the real issue is fear: fear of being labeled an alcoholic or addict; fear of losing the prestige that we may have accumulated; fear of the process of detox, treatment and recovery itself — but, most of all — fear of having to live without the crutch of alcohol or other drugs to get us through life. Let’s look at those one at a time.
Fear of being labeled an alcoholic or addict; fear of being “found out.”
For some reason, many of us imagine that no one outside our immediate circle of family and friends has noticed our addiction. Think about it. How likely is it that we wouldn’t notice someone we worked or socialized with if they had a problem with drinking or drugging? We might make excuses for them to protect our own behavior, but the fact is that we’d know long before they did.
There is no reason to think that other folks don’t know about our problems. Bosses notice work quality, absences, long lunches, coming in late and the other ways that we accomodate our using. Later on they may notice other things like discrepancies in expense accounts, clients not seen, and so forth. Bosses are in the business of evaluating employees. Of course they notice that stuff!
Our kids notice our failure to participate in their lives; our spouses the disintegration of a partnership into much less than it could be. Other family members notice the decline of our participation in family events, changes in our personalities, booze on our breath. They may remark on our tendency to hang with the drinkers in the family and avoid the social or non-drinkers. Same with our friends. Bottom line: we’re not very good at fooling folks. Not good at all.
Loss of prestige
We really have a choice here: we can either go to detox and treatment, attend a 12-step group, get our act together and regain our ability to function at a high level, or we can continue to allow things to deteriorate to the point where we blow our standing in the community ourselves.
Fear of the process
Detox and treatment were a walk in the park 21 years ago when I did my stint, and things have gotten better since. A medically-monitored inpatient detox is as close to pain-free as it’s possible to make a process like that. For me, treatment was like a vacation from troubles and care, with the additional benefit of being among people — staff and other clients — who understand where we’re coming from, won’t judge us, and will help us on the road to recovery and getting our lives back. I didn’t want to leave.
That leaves us with our biggest fear of all, giving up our best friends.
If we don’t think alcohol and other drugs were our best friends, we need to think again. “Who” did we go to when we were feeling down? What was our refuge from problems? What was the one thing that we made sure we always had nearby? What did we choose, while forsaking most of the people in our lives?
Giving up the drugs is scary. There is no question about it. But continuing the life we have while using is scary too. There is one big difference between our friend and recovery.
Recovery will let us live a life that may be better than we even hoped. Our friend will take everything from us, and then kill us slowly and painfully.