Barriers to Seeking Treatment

If you are suffering from the disease of addiction and you are reluctant to get help, you’re not alone. A recent government survey reported that, of the nearly 23 million people with substance use disorder, only about 10 percent of them received treatment. This suggests that vast majority of people in active addiction do not get the help they need. For those who do want help, many see the obstacles preventing them from seeking treatment as simply too large to be overcome. Of these obstacles, two of the most powerful are denial and fear.


As addicts and alcoholics we drank and used to change the way we were feeling, and it worked—sometimes for years or even decades. Eventually it stopped working so well or ceased working altogether, but by that time we had been addicts for so long that addiction had overtaken our lives. Faced with the most ruinous consequences of our drinking and using, we remained unable or unwilling to admit that we had a serious problem. We were in denial.

Denial can be defined as the selective ignoring of information; as a refusal to look at the reality of one’s situation. Denial is a way in which we deceive ourselves, to the extent that we detach ourselves from reality. By changing our beliefs around good news while ignoring bad news, we maintain a positive but thoroughly unrealistic view of ourselves. Breaking through this barrier of denial must happen for addicted people to recognize that they have a deadly disease and urgently need treatment for that disease. We begin this process by reaching out to others and trusting them to help us understand how dire our life situations have become.


Fear is an enormous barrier to recovery for many sufferers of substance use disorder. Fear manifests itself in countless forms. When active in our disease of addiction we feared being denied access our drug of choice. Many of us became afraid by merely thinking about a long and painful detoxification process. For some of us, these fears fed our denial about how truly sick we had become and prevented us from ever reaching out for help.

Overcoming Denial and Fear

Both denial and fear are powerful forces in the minds of people suffering from substance use disorder. Years of drinking and using made us substance-dependent, to the point where imagining a life without them seemed worse than asking for help. Denial and fear can seem like impassable barriers to recovery.

Thankfully, they are not impassable barriers. We who have recovered “from a seemingly hopeless state of mind and body” are certain about this. Our lives in recovery are full of excitement and meaning and purpose. If you are ready to begin the recovery process, please call Alta Loma Recovery at 866-457-3843 today. Join us and begin living a new and recovered life!