There are many paths that we may take in life, some intentional, and others that we end up on because of other choices we made. The road to substance use is most likely one of the latter for most of us. Once we are on this path, we can either make a sharp turn to take the recovery path, or we continue with substance use to our literal end of the road. While it can be difficult, it is important for us to consider taking the road less traveled.
Recovery: The Road Less Traveled
So many of us use substances, yet so few of us take the path of recovery. In 2018, according to SAMHSA, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, over 21 million people in the United States needed treatment for substance use. However, the biggest factor in not receiving the needed treatment is that they themselves did not think they needed it.
This was true of 95% of the people surveyed by SAMHSA who were identified as needing treatment for substance use, or 18.9 million people. Being in denial of needing help is one of the biggest reasons people do not take the road less traveled. Other factors that people gave as reasons for not getting help for substance use included that they were not ready to stop using substances or that they did not have healthcare and could not afford treatment.
Other reasons included that they did not know where to get help, or that they were concerned that seeking treatment would have a negative effect on their job or the opinions of their neighbors or people in their community. Of the 21 million people who needed treatment for substance use, only 3.7 million people actually received that treatment in 2018. This is why recovery is the road less traveled.
Dangers of Continued Substance Use
Staying on the path we are on has both short- and long-term dangers and consequences. We know that we risk damaging relationships, consequences at work, as well as potential driving or other legal issues surrounding our substance use. Often, we assume that these things will not happen to us, at least until they do.
Long-term, we risk serious health issues including cardiovascular problems, liver and kidney problems, or serious injury or risk of death due to substance use-related accidents. Legal issues could cause incarceration, not to mention the damage extended substance use creates in our relationships with others and our own self-esteem. We know what lies ahead on this road. Yet addiction keeps us bound to this path with almost-certain negative consequences.
Benefits of Seeking Treatment
When we take that sharp turn and step onto the path of recovery, we change our future. By leaving substances behind, we clear our path of the serious and dangerous risks that we faced. While there are still chances of long-term health problems and other consequences from our past use, recovery helps us to lower those chances significantly.
As we heal our minds and bodies, we gain strength and clarity to help us stay on the recovery path. By choosing to treat our substance use, we gain self-esteem and self-love, as well as self-forgiveness. We learn to improve our communication skills to be able to mend old relationships and form healthy new ones.
We become empowered with new tools to help us not only stay sober but to be able to grow as a person and make and reach new goals. Our bodies begin to heal through nutritious eating and regular exercise, and we learn to heal ourselves through daily self-care. The benefits of seeking treatment are literally endless, as far-reaching as our minds allow them to be.
The biggest obstacle to making the choice to seek treatment for our substance use is ourselves. First, we need to admit that we need help. This is challenging, but if we listen to that tiny voice inside of us that has been screaming for help for so long, we will know it is the right thing for us to do. We may not feel ready to give up our substances, but that rarely happens until there are grave consequences, so we can acknowledge the desire to continue using substances while still taking the steps to seek help.
Just like parents will make decisions for their children for their health and safety, we must make that decision for ourselves and our future now. The other obstacles include having healthcare and the means to pay for treatment, and knowing where to find help. Healthcare is more affordable and accessible than ever before, and there is always help available for anyone who is willing to ask. There are many accredited and certified facilities to choose from.
We also cannot control what others think about us seeking treatment, however, they are more likely to think poorly of us if we continue to use substances. None of these things should be obstacles to our choosing the road less traveled. We can find our own path.
You have tried the road of substance use. Why not try the road less traveled? At AToN Center, our goal is to help you find your own path of healing and happiness. Call (888) 535-1516 to find out how you can choose a life and an outcome that is different than the one you have now. Forge your own path.