Addiction Treatment
July 5th, 2017 Anthony Nave, LMSW

Q. I want to get treatment, but I feel I would be too embarrassed to let my friends know. How can I get help without everyone knowing? — Jack G., Westchester, NY

Change in general is difficult to accept because it is not easy to say, “I need help,” or admit that “I can do this this better.” There are all of types of anxieties that pop up when trying to make change happen. (This topic creates anxiety just trying to write this even though I have likely had this conversation daily for the last few years.) The notion of change is even more challenging when addiction is involved because there is the added negative social stigma, harsh stereotypes portrayed on TV and movies and joked about by friends, coworkers, or even family, and the Old School mentality that addiction is a moral choice. Most of the time we are all our own worst enemy, and likely beat ourselves up with negative comments about our character more than our friends ever could. In the end, we all do not change unless we feel uncomfortable with something, because really, if you feel good about the ways things are going, why change?

Residential treatment is available for those who need it, but there are other options for those who are not ready or feel they do not need to temporarily reside in a sober living environment. Engaging in treatment without your friends knowing is possible thanks to some outpatient services such as Intensive Outpatient Services (IOP) that meets at least three times a week or more as a group, and weekly outpatient services that meet for individual and group sessions. With these types of services, you can continue your typical work schedule, sleep in your own bed, and keep up appearances with friends, if you prefer, all while exploring your options for how to change and live a sober lifestyle.

You can keep up the white lies of dinner dates, confabulate medical appointments, indicate that you are working from home or going to the gym, or use another commitment as a reason for missing out on social activities when first starting treatment. Hopefully, after some time you will feel more confident in being genuine and accepting that you are at your best when alcohol or other drugs are not a part of your lifestyle.

I heard a quote that hits home for me, “The longest relationship you will ever have in this life is with yourself.” With time and help, the happier and more confident you are with yourself and the direction your life is heading, the more your friendships with positive people will continue to grow without harsh judgement or embarrassment. The negative consequences that will occur as an addiction progresses will feel worse than any embarrassing comment a friend — and I use this term loosely — makes about you looking for help.